In April 2021, the final U.S. Census data was released and with it came a sigh of relief from nearly every Minnesotan across the political spectrum. By a razor-thin margin of 89 people, Minnesota retained eight congressional seats in Congress, narrowly beating out the state of New York and holding on to our current number of seats.
Since then, there has been little agreement about how to redraw the congressional and legislative maps for the upcoming decade. Redistricting is extraordinarily significant in that it can have a major impact on the likelihood of one party or the other to experience success in a legislative district. With a divided Legislature, most political observers expected to have maps drawn in the way that it has been done since 1980, through the courts.
While both the DFL majority in the Minnesota House and the GOP majority in the Minnesota Senate have created and presented their own plans, neither is expected to be accepted by the other prior to the required Feb. 15 deadline, though there may be votes on the floor of each chamber.
In the meantime, the Minnesota Supreme Court has appointed a panel to hear from interested parties and to draw maps of their own. Four separate groups spanning the political spectrum have proposed redistricting maps.
When drawing maps, there are four state-based requirements: contiguity, that all areas with a district be physically adjacent; compactness, that constituents within a district should live as near to one another as practicable; the districts should be communities of interests; and that state legislative district lines take into account other political boundaries (counties, cities, school districts).
As the Legislature continues to work, there will likely be much discussion and possible votes on redistricting. But most likely, the final map will be released on or following Feb. 15 from the courts. Once the map is confirmed, many legislators will have decisions to make. Some will be moved into new districts, some may decide to run for a different office and others may see the newly created districts as unfavorable and decide to retire.