Port: Plaintiffs in redistricting lawsuit make some deeply questionable claims about turnout


MINOT, N.D. — This week, there’s been a federal bench trial in a lawsuit filed by two North Dakota tribes against the state over redistricting.

While lawmakers were engaged in a 2021 special session to re-draw political boundaries, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and Spirit Lake Sioux tribes came to them insisting that they gerrymander — yes, literally gerrymander — a district to enhance their voting power. In addition to being problematic from a racial and legal perspective, the request was also late in the process, just two days before lawmakers passed the final map and sent it to Gov. Doug Burgum for approval.

And there are good reasons to question some of the claims made about the political impact of the map.

The bench trial in the case wound down today, with U.S. District Judge Peter Welte expected to rule in the coming weeks, and as April Baumgarten reports, the plaintiffs claimed in their arguments that the map lawmakers approved suppressed voter turnout and reduced the number of Native Americans elected in the Legislature.

“Only two Native Americans in the state are lawmakers, said Mark Gaber, an attorney for the tribes,” Baumgarten reports.

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