Administrative Services Director Deborah Erickson gave Commissioners an overview on Tuesday, July 20 of the timeline and procedures associated with the redistribution process, a ten-year event through which new U.S. census data is used to adjust district boundaries federal congressional lines, as well as national and local lines.
County councils are responsible for redrawing the boundaries of commissioner districts within their counties to ensure equal political representation. A number of factors determine whether the lines need to be redrawn, including population growth or decline in a particular area and how the state legislature chooses to approach the redistribution of federal and state districts.
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Deborah Erickson, Director of Administrative Services for Crow Wing County
Most towns and townships – as well as all school districts – in Crow Wing County elect representatives in general, which means everyone who lives in that jurisdiction votes for everyone on elected bodies. They might see changes in polling stations depending on whether state or federal borders change, but otherwise, they won’t need to engage in a deep redistribution.
The town of Brainerd is an exception to this rule, with council members representing different geographic areas of the town. The county commissioners also each represent a specific area of the county.
Erickson said commissioners could face a tight schedule to create a redistribution plan and present it to the public, particularly amid the delayed release of data collected from the U.S. census due to COVID-19. At this point, only state-level data is available from the tally, with more granular population data expected by the end of September.
– Deborah Erickson, Director of Administrative Services
The state legislature must have completed its plans by February 15, 2022, and if they cannot come to a deal, the case must go to court, which may possibly shorten the timeline further. The redistribution of the constituencies and the city then takes place and must be completed by March 29, 2022 or within 60 days of the legislative redistribution. The county redistribution is the latest to take place, shaped by decisions made by these other bodies, and must be completed by April 26, 2022 or within 80 days of the legislative redistribution. Counties are also required to publish these changes three weeks before a public hearing.
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“You can see how tight this deadline will be since the start of the year,” Erickson said. “The biggest key thing is this legislative and congressional redistribution because nothing can happen until it does. And like many things, the county is the last piece of the puzzle. Everyone has to put their puzzles first, and then we come in and do our part with that. “
It won’t be until next spring, said Erickson – just weeks before the candidacy period for the 2022 election opens – that two county commissioners will know whether they will have to run again, two years earlier. provided that. The seats occupied by Commissioners Steve Barrows, Bill Brekken and Rosemary Franzen are already expected to appear on the 2022 ballot, but those occupied by Commissioners Paul Koering and Doug Houge were not initially slated for election until 2024.
Erickson said there was a chance that the commissioners would not need to make changes to the county districts, but given the population growth experienced in Crow Wing County as well as the potential changes the legislature could bring, it is more likely that things will change somewhat.
“I don’t want to hope that you will be in compliance because I think there will be adjustments to legislative lines and I think there will be adjustments to population changes that will cause you to be out of balance,” Erickson mentioned.
Redistribution considerations include tracking electoral constituency lines and making contiguous constituencies that are regular in shape and as compact as possible. The majority of districts cannot have a minority of the population – which means that the commissioner districts with the three smallest populations must combine for a majority of the county population.
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There is also a 10% rule for district populations. When the county’s most up-to-date population counts are released this fall, that number divided by five would set the average number of residents expected in each commissioner district. The actual population of these districts cannot deviate by more than 10% from this average.
For example, the 2019 population estimate places Crow Wing County at 65,055 people. Using this figure means that each commissioner district would have an average of 13,011 people and could not have more than 1,301 people above or below that number.
Diving into even more head-spinning math, commissioners are only required to stand for a new election if there is a 5% change in voters between districts. Using this same example, 650.5 people would represent 5% of the 13,011 average for each neighborhood. If the combined total of voters moved to or out of a commissioner district exceeds this 5% threshold, a special election would be required. Then, with the five commissioners on the ballot, it would have to be determined who would serve two-year terms and who would serve four-year terms to ensure that elections are staggered again in the future.
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Following the 2010 US Census, Crow Wing County made slight changes to its commissioner districts, moving the cities of Manhattan Beach and Fifty Lakes from District 2 to District 5. These changes have not triggered any news. elections.
Erickson said the next steps are for county staff to participate in self-paced training and familiarize themselves with a clipping guide from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office. County officials will also begin engaging city and township leaders to discuss their timelines. Redistribution efforts are expected to cost between $ 12,000 and $ 17,000, mainly due to publication costs as well as voter notifications.