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Redistricting Minnesota

By TJHalva | 1 point | November 10, 2010 at 6:55:27 PM CT 0 Comments

It’s now been eight days since Minnesota held their very close Gubernatorial Election; here are the current results from the Secretary of State’s website:

CandidateVotesPercent %
Mark Dayton (D)919,21443.63
Tom Emmer (R)910,45943.21
Tom Horner (MNIP)251,48511.94

Source: Minnesota Secretary of State Unofficial Election Results at 6:40:42 PM on 11/10/2010

The vote totals continue to fluctuate, with Dayton having lost 17, Emmer losing 21, and Horner losing 18 since yesterday evening. The net change in this time period is +4 to Dayton and the overall lead has increased to 8,755 from 8,751.

In my last article I discussed the likely possibility of an extended Gubernatorial term for current Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty; or through legal trickery an installed Republican from the incoming Minnesota Senate. There are all sorts of political scenarios that could unfold in the coming months, but for now I only want to focus on those affecting the redistricting process.

The US Constitution establishes a framework for the redistricting process:

Article. I.
Section. 2.

Clause 3: Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. (See Note 2) The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. [...]

Source: US Constitution via

The Minnesota Constitution then empowers the state legislature to devise appropriate borders for federal congressional districts that uphold the preceding article:


Sec. 3. CENSUS ENUMERATION APPORTIONMENT; CONGRESSIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT BOUNDARIES; SENATE DISTRICTS. At its first session after each enumeration of the inhabitants of this state made by the authority of the United States, the legislature shall have the power to prescribe the bounds of congressional and legislative districts. Senators shall be chosen by single districts of convenient contiguous territory. No representative district shall be divided in the formation of a senate district. The senate districts shall be numbered in a regular series.

Source: Article IV of the Minnesota Constitution

This constitutionally defined enumeration is produced by the US Census; which was recently conducted on April 1, 2010. The results, however have yet to be released:

37. When will data from the census be available?
The population counts will be delivered to the President of the United States within nine months of Census Day (on or before Dec. 31, 2010), as required by law. This report will show the apportionment population counts by state, and the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives apportioned to each state.

Public Law (P.L.) 94-171 requires the Census Bureau to provide only counts of the total population for a variety of geographic areas to be used for the redistricting process. In addition, other data items, such as race, ethnicity, voting age and housing unit tallies, are included in this data set. P.L.94-171 also requires these data be delivered to each state no later than April 1, 2011. Other data products such as demographic profiles, summary files of aggregated data and reports will be released on a flow basis from April 2011 through September 2013. More detailed population and housing information is available annually from the American Community Survey. Visit for more information.

Source: 2010 Census Constituent FAQs via

The apportionment of Minnesota, and all other states, will be released on or before December 31, 2010. It is widely expected that Minnesota will retain its eight federal Congressional Districts. Once this data is released, the Minnesota legislature can begin to preliminarily create district boundaries. They cannot however finalize the boundaries until the full release of the full P.L. 94-171 geographic and demographic data set is released by the US Census Bureau; this is referred to as phase 3. They could theoretically finalize a boundary plan before the completion of phase 3, but they would have to predict the results of the data; which would be extremely difficult and improbable.

Assuming the new Minnesota Legislature does not attempt to predict the outcome of phase 3, they could begin to assess possible plans, but it would be nearly impossible to pass new redistricting law without incorporating invalid data. A redistricting plan centered on invalid data would likely be invalidated by the courts or some other entity. In 2000, the US Census Bureau provided phase 3 data in March of 2001.

The Minnesota Republican Party, potentially controlling the Governor and definitely the Legislature, would love to control the redistricting process, but they simply cannot move forward with the voting until completed P.L. 94-171 data, as a part of phase 3, is released by the US Census Bureau. The Minnesota statutory deadline for completing the redistricting process after the 2010 Census is March 20, 2012.

In 2000, the MN legislature had not determined new boundaries by statutorily imposed deadline of March 19, 2002. As a result, a special panel was appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court to determine a redistricting plan:

On July 12, 2001, the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court appointed a five-judge special redistricting panel and ordered them to release a redistricting plan “only in the event a legislative redistricting plan is not enacted in a timely manner.” On October 29, 2001, the panel issued a scheduling order setting November 13 as the deadline for parties to submit their proposed redistricting criteria, December 28 as the deadline for the parties to submit proposed plans, and March 19, 2002 (the statutory deadline for the Legislature to complete action on redistricting plans) as the date when the panel would issue plans of its own, if necessary. The panel’s order stating redistricting principles and requirements for plan submissions was issued December 11, 2001. Following the January 16, 2002, oral argument on the plans submitted by the parties, the court issued an order setting a schedule for public hearings on how citizens preferred their communities to be viewed during redistricting. On March 19, 2002, the panel issued its orders adopting a legislative redistricting plan and a congressional redistricting plan.

Source: Congressional Redistricting Plan via

The best case scenario for the DFL is for the phase 3 data to be released after the certification of Mark Dayton as the winner. This would allow Dayton to either sign whatever the Republican controlled legislature passed or to veto it and force another special panel to decide the districts in 2010.

Updated on November 21, 2010 at 3:03:49 PM CT


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