Minnesotans get a voice in drawing district boundariesby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A non-partisan citizens group plans a series of eight hearings this month to find out what changes Minnesotans want to see in the state political map.
Members of the newly-formed Minnesota Citizens Redistricting Commission will share the gathered information with a judicial panel that begins work on congressional and legislative district boundaries this fall.
During a state Capitol news conference Thursday, Laura Fredrick Wang of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota said redistricting doesn't have to be a closed and partisan process.
"We want to allow citizens an opportunity to get more involved, either through testimony about their communities or by using the mapping software that is now available to us to draw maps and have a say in how they're going to be represented," Wang said. "In short, we want to change the way Minnesotans think about the redistricting process in the years to come."
The commission's approach to redistricting will not try to protect incumbent elected officials, Wang said. The 15-member group has scheduled hearings this month in each of the state's eight congressional districts.
Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a Republican-backed redistricting plan back in May.
"We trust the citizens of Minnesota to look at this in a way that I think will be very healthy politically and in terms of civility and in terms of all those sorts of things," said David Wheeler of the group, Draw the Line Minnesota. The public will bring a fresh perspective to redistricting, he said.