North Dakota
State BoundariesDrawn by legislature
Governor's PartyRepublican
Legislative PartyRepublican

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

State Legislative

Alert:
Low

Process

State Legislature

North Dakota's state legislative lines are drawn by the Legislature by ordinary statute, and are subject to the Governor's veto. The Legislature can override vetoes with a two-thirds vote in each chamber. North Dakota has only one at-large congressional district, so there is no congressional redistricting.

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, North Dakota’s state constitution (Art. IV § 2) requires that state legislative districts be compact and contiguous. State statutes (Code § 54-03-01.5) also require that districts preserve political subdivisions and the cores of existing districts. 

Public Input

North Dakota law does not require public hearings, and there is no record of the Legislature holding any hearings in the 2011 redistricting cycle.

Issues

Pitfalls

Both chambers of the Legislature and the Governorship are controlled by Republicans. Single-party control of redistricting increases the risk of partisan gerrymandering. 

Currently, there are concerns around HB1397, a bill that would exempt redistricting plans from open records laws, thus making the redistricting process significantly less transparent.

In addition, North Dakota has a significant Native American population, raising concerns of fair representation under the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution.

Potential Reform

In 2020, North Dakota Voters First proposed a constitutional amendment through a ballot initiative to change the redistricting process. The campaign submitted enough signatures to be on the ballot, but was removed by the state Supreme Court for failing to meet certain technical requirements. Still, the initiative may serve as a template for future reform efforts.

  • NDVF's amendment would have required the five-member Ethics Commission to unanimously approve state legislative districts, as well as unanimously agree on an expert to assist in map-drawing. It would also require that the Commission's redistricting meetings be public and that the public be allowed to view, present testimony, and participate in all meetings. The Commission must also hold at least eight public hearings across the state, including at least two in Native American reservations. Lastly, the Commission's materials would be considered public record.
  • In addition to taking redistricting authority away from the Legislature and increasing public input and transparency, the initiative would also change districting standards. First, North Dakota's Senate districts would no longer act as multimember districts for their House elections. Instead, the Senate districts would be split into two House districts, each electing one representative. Second, the initiative creates a list of ranked criteria for line-drawing, including protections for minority communities and other communities of interest, prohibitions on partisanship, and a goal of politically competitive districts.

Actions

In 2021, contact your state representatives and/or the legislative redistricting committee to ensure your voice is heard in the redistricting process.

  • Obtain North Dakota redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the Legislature starts collecting feedback.
  • Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.

Contacts

North Dakota Voters First

League of Women Voters of North Dakota

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia