The judicial panel that will likely draw the Minnesota's next political maps says "communities of interest" should be kept together and maps should not been drawn with an eye to helping -- or hurting -- incumbents.

The order outlining the court's criteria, released Friday, will guide partisans as they draw redistricting maps to submit to the court and the court if draws the final map next year. Proposed maps are due to the court by Nov. 18.

The court said that maps must conform very tightly to population equality and make five congressional districts of 662,991 and three of 662,990. It also said legislative district must deviate no more than two percent from the ideal standard for legislative districts (79,163 for Senate districts and 39,582 for House districts.)

Although Democratic attorneys argued the court should recognize the state's long-standing definition of the metropolitan area as the seven counties surrounding the Twin Cities, the court's order recognized an 11-county metropolitan area, as requested by Republican attorneys.

The court will draw the final map, in the likely case that DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and the GOP-led Legislature do not agree by Feb. 21 on maps to outline political boundaries for the next decade of Minnesota voting.

Read the full order here: 


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