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Letter: Get engaged now with redistricting in North Dakota

Legislators make decisions that affect our everyday lives. Having fair districts that respect communities of interest and unique boundaries make for better representation and public policy. Again, this is a big deal, because it only happens once every 10 years.

Letter to the editor FSA

The 2021 legislative districting process is in motion, and North Dakota Voters First is urging fellow North Dakotans to get involved. Together, we can help prevent gerrymandering in our state.

As a matter of fact, the first meeting of the 2021 North Dakota Redistricting Committee is coming up soon on Thursday, Aug. 26, at the state capitol in Bismarck. Please consider attending this and following meetings in-person or virtually. Testimony will be accepted at all the committee meetings. Go to legis.nd.gov to find committee dates and other important information. The maps they draw will be in place for the next decade. It’s vital your lawmakers hear from you!

There was big news recently with the release of the detailed 2020 U.S. Census data. The new data starts the process of creating new maps. The report showed that North Dakota’s population increased by almost 16% in the last 10 years to 779,094 people. This is important, because it will dramatically affect North Dakota’s 47 legislative districts and this year’s legislative districting process. If legislators continue with a 47-district map, each district will increase in population from about 14,000 to over 16,000.

Specifically, Bismarck-Mandan, Fargo-West Fargo, and the Oil Patch saw dramatic population increases.

Unfortunately, many of North Dakota’s rural areas lost population. This means rural legislative districts will need to be increased in size geographically to include more people. That is one reason our organization is pushing to make sure that split state Senate districts for the House of Representatives is a part of the 2021 districting conversation.

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Legislators make decisions that affect our everyday lives. Having fair districts that respect communities of interest and unique boundaries make for better representation and public policy. Again, this is a big deal, because it only happens once every 10 years.

If you’re interested in this issue, please be sure to follow North Dakota Voters First on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’ll be tracking the 2021 legislative districting process closely and posting social media updates along the way. With your help, we can prevent gerrymandering in our state.

Rick Gion is director of North Dakota Voters First.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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