Rethink redistricting

Letting politicians draw political borders is undemocratic.

by Daily Editorial Board

On Election Day, Minneapolis voters will be presented with a ballot initiative that would change the way city wards are drawn. This commonsense measure would take redistricting duties away from political parties and turn them over to a nonpartisan commission.
Nonpartisan redistricting is such a good idea that voters should be asking: Why not adopt a similar policy statewide?
Local, state and federal political districts are routinely redrawn. The process exists so political boundaries can better reflect shifting demographics, but is often and inexplicably entrusted to political parties themselves, which have every incentive to manipulate boundaries to their advantage.
This well-established practice, called gerrymandering, often results in bizarrely shaped districts that exclude or include particular populations. In the short term, this can clinch elections; in the long term, though, both parties lose, and the voters themselves lose big.
ThatâÄôs why a qualified nonpartisan panel like that proposed by the Minnesota Districting Project âÄî a Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs initiative backed by a broad and prestigious coalition of Minnesota politicians emeritus âÄî is so essential.
In the wake of the 2010 census, MinnesotaâÄôs political parties are already slavering over the opportunity to literally redraw the stateâÄôs political map. If past decades are any indication, the process will be fraught, costly, time-consuming and intensely political âÄî but it doesnâÄôt have to be that way.
Regardless of who wins in November, a top priority for next year should be for lawmakers to take this issue off their own plates.