Lawsuit: MN Needs to Integrate BIPOC Voices in Redistricting
Friday, July 16, 2021
WORTHINGTON, Minn. -- Several lawsuits have been filed seeking fairness in Minnesota's redistricting process, and new legal action focuses on lifting the voices of disenfranchised voters as the state prepares to redraw its political boundaries.
A coalition wants the Minnesota Supreme Court to compel the state to include input from BIPOC leaders and their communities.
Redistricting is done every ten years after each formal census count.
Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota, said for far too long, communities have had their political power diluted in the process.
"As a result, many do not benefit from equitable electoral power, or a fair opportunity to elect candidates with shared interests who are gonna take up those issues that are maybe unique to these communities and push them through the Legislature or in local government," Belladonna-Carrera explained.
A handful of other lawsuits were filed this year from a range of groups asking for intervention in map-making. In previous redistricting years,
Minnesota courts typically have been called in because of stalemates in the Legislature. The state's chief justice recently appointed members to a special panel to handle redistricting this time around. Coalition members say they want the panel to give them a seat at the table.
Aida Simon, a plaintiff and community organizer from Worthington, said concerns exist with local political maps, too.
Simon noted it became evident when she and other women of color ran for office in the Worthington area, but lost, even with the local population seeing major demographic shifts in terms of race.
"I'm more determined now than ever to work for new maps that would make it possible to see a person of color elected in our district," Simon stated.
Complicating matters is the delay in incorporating new census numbers. Because of the pandemic and other issues, the data won't be released until later this summer.
Minnesota faces a deadline of February next year to produce the new maps.
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