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Letter: Native voices need to be part of political process

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Many thanks to the Bismarck Tribune for the editorial “Legislature needs to try subdistricts” on Sept. 8. Single member house districts or subdistricts as our state Constitution identifies them, would benefit both reservations as well as large rural districts that are losing legislative power to more populated urban cities. The idea for subdistricts is not a farfetched idea for North Dakota. Neither is establishing an independent commission for redistricting. Both measures we have proposed and supported in our testimony prior to the redistricting process commencing.

Our State Constitution in Article IV subsection 2, paragraph 2 provides “The legislative assembly may… provide for the election of senators at large and representatives at large or from subdistricts from those districts.” North Dakota Century Code 54-03-01.5 subsection 2 also provides that “Representatives may be elected at large or from subdistricts.”

In 1960, voters approved a legislatively proposed constitutional amendment that froze senate districts as they had been in 1931 and provided for reapportionment of the House. It also established a commission (chief justice, attorney general, majority and minority leaders of the House) to produce a plan for legislative redistricting. Similar to that plan, we'd like to see a redistricting commission formed that is independent of partisan office holders.

North Dakota Native Vote was founded to ensure Native voices are included in the political discourse of our state. We support and encourage Native people to engage in the political process that is not always inclusive of our people. Our communities make up 5% of the population, not a large population, but do constitute the largest minority group in the state. The process of redistricting only happens every 10 years and it is our hope that the redistricting committee makes the maps that are fair to all communities.

Nicole Donaghy, Lincoln

Executive director, North Dakota Native Vote

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