State should take on gerrymandering

Since the U.S. Supreme Court decided it is too hard for it to get involved in settling gerrymandering questions, we guess it is up to the states to settle the question when one political party tries to redraw legislative or congressional boundaries to perpetuate its own advantage.

Minnesota is currently the only state in the union with split party control of its Legislature — Democrats control the House, while Republicans control the Senate. Gov. Tim Walz is a Democrat as well. So we are unlikely to see the kind of tortuously drawn legislative lines designed to minimize the impact of one party, or give an unfair advantage to the other. But that could change with the 2020 state legislative election, and the next legislature would take on redistricting in 2021.

So, what can we, or any state, do to ensure that political boundaries are drawn with the principle of one person, one vote in mind, and not perpetuating partisan power?

We could take it out of the hands of the politicians. That, of course, would involve legislators passing legislation to reduce their power, an unlikely event. But if politicians could be persuaded to do the right thing, turning the job of redrawing district boundaries could be turned over to a non-partisan panel of experts designed to ensure fair elections for all. In the past, disputes about redistricting maps were turned over to the Minnesota judiciary, who have not turned away from their duty, as the U.S. Supreme Court has, in deciding these tough cases.

Minnesota doesn’t have a system, like some other states, allowing voters to place measures on the state’s ballots through petition and referendum. It will take pressure on our legislators from the people to push this idea of creating a non-partisan panel to ensure fair elections for all.


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