Elections are at the very core of our democracy. Every voter’s voice has the right to have equal weight in our democracy. At the end of its term last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that it would not intervene in the process of state redistricting, no matter how biased.
Over the last several redistricting cycles, the Minnesota Legislature has relied on state courts to draw fair district maps instead of legislators’ fulfilling their core duty of working on behalf of their constituents. With its decision, the court reminded states and voters that the ultimate power in democracy rests with its people — not parties or politicians. Our democracy depends on you, the voter, to elect legislators who represent you and believe in fair redistricting.
It is important to note that more than 38% of the state and congressional district maps drawn by politicians in the 2010 cycle were either struck down by courts or drawn by courts when politicians failed to draw fair maps.
In the recently decided case, partisan motivations, as stated by North Carolina legislators openly and on the record, cost North Carolinians their voice in their elections. The maps that the Supreme Court reviewed were drawn with the explicit intent to send 10 Republicans and three Democrats to Congress. North Carolina is nearly evenly split among the electorate; however, the outcome was exactly as politicians designed, leaving voters with little say over who represents them. We know, and the data show, that gerrymandering removes legislative accountability to voters.
In Minnesota, and across the country, voters are calling for independent redistricting commissions in their states. Currently, seven states use these commissions to draw districts: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Montana and Washington.
We are working with Minnesotans, from various political backgrounds, to bring forward reforms that make sense for Minnesota. Minnesotans want elections that are open, fair and transparent. The court’s opinion reaffirms that the people have the power to drive election reform in our state. The work is by no means over, and moving voter-focused and voter-driven reforms putting Minnesota voters first is our priority.
In HF 1605, a collaborative work before the Legislature, a transparent process is used to form a citizen advisory redistricting commission. The commission’s members would use community criteria, not partisan data, to draw fair election maps. These maps would allow voters to truly pick their elected officials for themselves. We ask for your support of HF 1605 to ensure that voters truly have the power to elect their representatives.
Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera is executive director of Common Cause Minnesota. Ginny Klevorn, of Plymouth, is a DFL member of the Minnesota House. On Twitter: @commoncausemn and @GinnyKlevorn, respectively.