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Prof. Justin Levitt's Doug Spencer's Guide to Drawing the Electoral Lines

State Summary

Minnesota’s congressional and state legislative lines are drawn by the legislature, as normal legislation, subject to gubernatorial veto.

In the 2010 cycle, as in the cycle before, the legislature and Governor could not agree on a plan, and on Feb. 21, 2012, the State Supreme Court stepped in to draw congressional and state legislative lines.

 

The Latest Updates

Nov 23, 2021
The Minnesota House Redistricting Committee met to review a proposed congressional map from the House DFL caucus.
Nov 18, 2021
The Wattson redistricting panel issued an order establishing redistricting criteria.
Sep 13, 2021
The redistricting panel in Wattson v. Simon, which was appointed to oversee the redistricting process, issued an order establishing a schedule for public hearings from October 11, 2021 through October 26, 2021.
Aug 7, 2021
The Minnesota Senate Redistricting Committee will take public testimony on issues related to redistricting on Aug. 9, 2021.
Feb 19, 2021
The country's first suit anticipating legislature failure to draw valid maps in 2021 was filed, in Minnesota.

Institution

Minnesota’s congressional and state legislative lines are both drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.

The members of the state House committee responsible for redistricting are listed here; the members of the state Senate committee are listed here.

Timing

Minnesota law requires that congressional and legislative districts be drawn in the first legislative session after the census; that session began on Jan. 5, 2021, and is currently scheduled to end on May 17, 2021. [Minn. Const. art. IV, § 3]  By statute, Minnesota has set a “final” deadline of 25 weeks before the primary election (Feb. 15, 2022), in order to give counties and municipalities time to reset precinct boundaries. Candidates must file for congressional and state legislative primary elections by May 31, 2022. [Minn. Stat. §§ 204B.09(1)(a)204B.14(1a)]

Minnesota ties the drawing of congressional and state legislative lines to the Census, and might therefore be construed to prohibit redrawing lines mid-decade. [Minn. Const. art. IV, § 3]

Public input

The redistricting panel in Wattson v. Simon, which was appointed to oversee the redistricting process, issued an order establishing a schedule for public hearings from October 11, 2021 through October 26, 2021.

 

Criteria

Like all states, Minnesota must comply with constitutional equal population requirements. [Minn. Const. art. IV, § 2]

Minnesota must also, like all states, abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race.

The Minnesota constitution requires that state Senate districts be contiguous, and that Representative districts be nested within Senate districts. [Minn. Const. art. IV, § 3]  By statute, the legislature has extended the contiguity requirement to all congressional and legislative districts, and asked that political subdivisions not be divided more than necessary; that statutory provision may be modified by the legislature at any time. [Minn. Stat. § 2.91(2)]

2010 cycle

On May 17, 2011, Minnesota’s legislature passed congressional (HF 1426) and state legislative (HF 1425) lines, but the Governor vetoed both on May 19, 2011.

The State Supreme Court once again stepped in, appointing a panel of judges to draw lines.  The Minnesota Citizens Redistricting Commission planned public meetings in August and September, to collect testimony and produce maps that they hoped would inform the judges’ decision. Common Cause Minnesota and the Humphrey School’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance also announced a public competition to draw congressional and legislative lines.

The judges held a series of public meetings from Oct. 4-14, and invited proposed maps; on Feb. 21, 2012, the panel issued congressional and state legislative lines.  [Hippert v. Ritchie, 813 N.W.2d 391 (Minn. 2012) (congressional plan); Hippert v. Ritchie, 813 N.W.2d 374 (Minn. 2012) (legislative plan)]

In February and March, 2012, the Secretary of State issued a few technical corrections. On Apr. 27, 2012, the legislature passed HF 2821, modifying a few state House districts; the governor vetoed the bill on May 2, 2012.  On May 22, 2013, the legislature passed HF 894, modifying the same state House districts; the governor signed the bill a day later.

2000 cycle

Minnesota’s legislature failed to enact either congressional or state legislative plans; the state Supreme Court instead stepped in, and delegated redistricting to a special panel of judges. That panel issued both congressional and state legislative plans, effective Mar. 19, 2002.

[Zachman v. Kiffmeyer, C0-01-160 (Minn. Spec. Redistricting Panel Mar. 19, 2002) (congressional plan)]; Zachman v. Kiffmeyer, C0-01-160 (Minn. Spec. Redistricting Panel Mar. 19, 2002) (legislative plan)]

Redistricting Cases in Minnesota

Search all Minnesota Cases >

Minnesota | State Trial | State Supreme | Congress | State Upper | State Lower
Wattson v. Simon
PENDING - State court challenge to congressional & legislative lines: anticipated leg. failure
Last Updated Nov 18, 2021
Case Number

No. 10-CV-21-127 (Minn. Dist. Ct., Carver Cnty.), No. A21-0243 (Minn. S. Ct.)

Cycle 2020
Minnesota | State Trial | State Supreme | Congress | State Upper | State Lower
Sachs v. Simon
State court challenge to congressional & legislative lines based on anticipated leg. failure
Last Updated May 20, 2021
Case Number

No. 62-CV-21-2213 (Minn. Dist. Ct., Ramsey Cnty.), No. A-21-0546 (Minn. S. Ct.)

Cycle 2020