MINOT, N.D. — The redistricting plan North Dakota's lawmakers will consider in special session next week includes two subdivided House districts.
Currently, there are three state lawmakers who represent every district. One is a senator; two are representatives. They're all elected to the same terms from the same geographical area.
The proposed plan takes two of those districts that encompass some of our state's tribal communities and subdivides them. Districts 4 (around the Fort Berthold reservation) and 9 (near Turtle Mountain) would each have one senator that represents the entire district, but each representative would only represent a portion of the district.
This subdivision is intended to help the tribal communities elect one of their own to the Legislature.
As a practical matter, it "helps" our Native American friends by allowing them to vote for only two members of the Legislature while the citizens living in every other legislative district get to vote for three.
I live in District 5 in Minot. If the subdivision plan goes forward, I'll still be voting for a senator and two representatives every four years. The unfortunates in districts 4 and 9 would only get to vote for a senator and one representative.
Nobody should want that.
That this being done in the name of furthering equality makes it all the more galling.
There's nothing equal about giving some North Dakotans less political representation in the Legislature.
The answer to this, according to some, is to simply subdivide all of the legislative districts. Carol Sawicki, chair of a far-left front group called North Dakota Voters First, which is largely bankrolled by out-of-state interests, makes that argument in a recent letter to the editor.
"Split districts would bring government closer to the people throughout the whole state," she argues. "We think that most of us would prefer to be represented by one person who understands their priorities and lives fairly near to them, instead of being represented by two persons who do not."
Perhaps Sawicki and her group have spent so much time cashing checks from out-of-state donors that they've forgotten how politics actually works in North Dakota.
Our lawmakers are incredibly accessible. Click through the legislative biographies posted on the state's website, and you're going to find home addresses and cellphone numbers. Call one of those numbers, and the lawmaker will probably answer.
That doesn't happen in other states.
In North Dakota, if you can't get a hold of your lawmaker, you aren't really trying.
Some of our rural districts are very large, geographically speaking, but I'm not sure how we solve that problem short of forcing North Dakotans to move out of the cities and back to rural communities.
Certainly, it's not something subdivision would address.
Truth is, there's nothing wrong with the status quo. The lines need to be redrawn so they're in line with the most recent census, and that's it.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.