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Typically we think of democracy as voters choosing their government officials. Yet, every 10 years, following the decennial census, this common perception is reversed when elected officials use redistricting data to choose their voters.

Here are four questions to ask about redistricting in Minnesota, and some answers:

1. What is redistricting?

Redistricting: The process of redrawing political boundaries to account for changes in population.

Each state has a number of representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives proportional to the population. A census is required every 10 years by the U.S. Constitution, in part to help provide a basis for maintaining that proportionality.

Similarly, state and local governments can require that the boundaries of its election districts change so that the district populations remain fairly equal over time.

2. What does the new redistricting data say about Minnesota’s communities?

Statewide the total population grew by 8% from 5.3 million in 2010 to 5.7 million in 2020. Population growth across Minnesota communities, however, was much more varied. Whether by population location within the state or by how individuals identify their race and ethnicity, community-level data suggest significant growth in some important areas.

Highlights:

  • Minnesota’s total population grew to 5.7 million, an 8% increase from 2010.
  • Regionally, population growth was highest in the Twin Cities at 11%.
  • Minnesota’s multiracial population grew to 345,721, a 176% increase from 2010.
  • Minnesota’s Hispanic/Latino population grew to 345,640, a 38% increase from 2010.
  • Minnesota’s voting-age population grew to 4.3 million, a 9% increase from 2010.
  • Minnesota’s multiracial voting-age population grew to 198,781, a 263% increase.
  • Minnesota’s Hispanic/Latino voting-age population grew to 218,767, a 47% increase.

As Minnesota’s entire population grows more racially and ethnically diverse, the 18 and older population are of particular interest because the electorate is a subpopulation of these adults. Although noncitizens and felons are not identified in redistricting data, the voting-eligible population cannot be calculated without first understanding the voting-age population.

Voting-age population by race

 

2010

2020

Percent change

Total population, age 18 and older 4,019,862 4,389,033 9%
   Population of one race 3,965,178 4,190,252 6%
      White alone 3,534,151 3,550,129 <1%
      Black or African American alone 177,707 260,434 47%
      American Indian or Alaska Native alone 40,846 47,060 15%
      Asian alone 146,776 215,605 47%
      Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 1,510 2,058 36%
      Some other race alone 64,188 114,966 79%
   Population of two or more races 54,684 198,781 264%

Source. P.L. 94-171 Redistricting data, U.S. Census Bureau (2020) Retrieved on August 23, 2021

Voting-age population by race and ethnicity

 

2010

2020

Percent change

Total population, age 18 and older 4,019,862 4,389,033 9%
   Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 148,836 218,767 47%
   Not Hispanic or Latino 3,871,026 4,170,266 8%
      Population of one race 3,825,969 4,037,188 6%
         White alone 3,462,644 3,509,053 1%
         Black or African American alone 174,688 257,353  47% 
         American Indian or Alaska Native alone 38,010 39,560 4%
         Asian alone 146,014 214,681 47%
         Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander alone 1,351 1,861 38%
         Some other race alone 3,262 14,680 350%

      Population of two or more races

45,057 133,078 195%

Source. P.L. 94-171 Redistricting data, U.S. Census Bureau (2020) Retrieved on August 23, 2021

Minnesota’s Hispanic or Latino voting-age population grew substantially between 2010 and 2020, from 168,000 to nearly 219,000. Some areas saw more growth than others. In west central Minnesota, the Hispanic or Latino voting-age population grew to nearly 5,000, a 73% increase from 2010. In the Twin Cities, the Hispanic or Latino voting-age population went from fewer than 100,000 to more than 140,000. Which populations grew and where will certainly be a topic of discussion among those involved with redistricting.

3. Who will be using this data in my community?

In addition to the state legislature, there are four types of local units of government that have some degree of responsibility for redistricting:

  • County commissioner districts
  • City precincts and wards
  • Township precincts
  • School districts

Whether a local unit of government will be adjusting their own districts or not, other jurisdictions may be affected by redistricting decisions in one jurisdiction or another. Although a voter may apply for a court order requiring revisions to the redistricting plan, redistricting authority lies with the unit of government. Put simply, the “voter choices” being made during redistricting are choices made by elected officials over which geographies their voters will come from next and, in the case of school districts, the number and location of polling places.

­4. How can I get involved?

Minnesota’s Secretary of State provides guidance for officials to prepare for redistricting. Several of the general recommendations also apply to the public, and Minnesota Compass users can find the information they need to be informed participants in the process. Here are the highlights from those general recommendations:

  • Know your area
  • Review your staff and skills
  • Plan processes
  • Understand the population
  • Gather census data, and
  • Map out technology

Use Minnesota Compass’ Minneapolis St. Paul Neighborhoods data to get to know your area if you live in communities located in the Twin Cities. If your community is in greater Minnesota, take a look at your city, county, or region to better understand the population. Finally, visit our Build Your Own custom data profile tool to map out geographies in your community that may be in need of redistricting.

“Suffrage is THE pivotal right.”

Susan B. Anthony