Port: It kind of seems like North Dakota got sued because they refused to gerrymander


MINOT, N.D. — According to the Oxford English Dictionary, to gerrymander is to “manipulate the boundaries of an electoral constituency so as to favor one party or class” or to “achieve a result by manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency.”

With that in mind, consider the federal lawsuit brought last year by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe. The tribes allege that the state, during its 2021 redistricting process, illegally packed Turtle Mountain voters into a single House subdistrict while leaving Spirit Lake voters out of a majority Native American district.

The bench trial in the suit began this week, and it’s expected to last five days. I think it’s important, as the public looks on, that we be reminded of the literal gerrymandering that the tribes requested of state lawmakers during the redistricting process.

The legislation that passed during the 2021 redistricting special session, which implemented the state’s current district boundaries, was House Bill 1504. Contained in the history of that bill (see the PDF below) is a proposed map, introduced by the Turtle Mountain and Spirit Lake Tribes, for District 9.

As you can see, the map would have created an oddly-shaped district around the Turtle Mountain reservation in the north, and the Spirit Lake reservation in the south, where the voting-age population would be nearly 70% Native American.

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