There is growing opposition to specific language in the proposed process to North Dakota’s redrawing of the district map. Legislative leaders have included language that would exempt part of the process from open record requirements. Media, transparency organizations, and many Democratic-NPL members have called for the language to be removed. Republicans should join the call to transparency.
North Dakota Republicans have expanded their representation in the Legislature over the last few election cycles. It is no secret there are members within their own ranks legislative leadership would rather do without. Portions of the general public feel the same way. Many of these members have been recently elected.
Given the state of politics these days, it is unlikely anyone but another Republican would unseat these far-right legislators. It is the reality Democrats in the state face. This may be why a few Republicans will get pitted against one another following the new district map. Some of those decisions will be strategic to rid themselves of the newly elected far-right members.
Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner was a guest on my KFGO radio show toward the end of last week. We were discussing the bonding bill – more on that in a future post – when Wardner mentioned redistricting. I asked him about the exemption from open records language. You can listen to his response here.
Wardner says the language has been used before in this process. That doesn’t mean it should stay. In the digital age, we can be provided full and easy access to the planning process of our new district-level makeup. This should be an easy fix to remove the language unless there are other political reasons to keep it.
Gerrymandering does happen in ND. I’ve discussed examples on NDx before. It won’t just be the handful of Democratic-NPL lawmakers that may find themselves in another even less competitive district. It may be the newer Republican lawmakers who aren’t exactly welcomed by legislative leadership. They should want to watch this process play out as well. If there is nothing to keep secret from the public or other lawmakers, we’d all be better served by removing the open record exemption.