League of Women Voters of South Dakota is hosting an educational forum on legislative redistricting and gerrymandering on Thursday, October 4th at 5:00 p.m.
NSU Political Science Professor Erin Fouberg will speak on redistricting at “Will Your Vote Count?” at the education room in the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre located at 900 Governors Dr.
The League of Women Voters of the United States, a ninety-eight year old, nonpartisan organization formed after women’s suffrage was enacted nationally, focuses primarily on upholding democracy through its “Making Democracy Work” programs. Educating voters, along with registering voters and encouraging voters to vote, is at the heart of LWV’s work.
League of Women Voters South Dakota has received a $10,000 grant from the national League of Women Voters to hold comprehensive public education forums on legislative redistricting. Eight events will take place in cities across the state in the next three months.
The forums are intended to increase voters’ knowledge and understanding of redistricting, how redistricting affects elections and alternatives to the current process.
The 2020 census will track population changes over the last 10 years and have a major impact on how legislative districts are redrawn in South Dakota. Currently, the state legislature draws those lines. In 2016, South Dakotans voted on a constitutional amendment which would have removed that power from the legislature and given it to a nine-member independent commission consisting of three Republican voters, three Democrat voters and three voters not affiliated with either of the two parties. That amendment was defeated, 57 percent to 43 percent.
Redistricting is an issue of democracy that is being addressed in the courts as well as by legislative action and ballot initiatives. A 2005 federal court case in South Dakota, Bone Shirt v. Nelson, forced the state to redraw district lines in the southwest part of the state. Two cases recently before the Supreme Court, from Wisconsin and Maryland, were sent back to the states for further attempts at redistricting. The cases drew claims of gerrymandering from both Republicans and Democrats.
Erin Fouberg is a professor of geography and history, and director of the Northern State University Honors Program. She received her Bachelor of Science in foreign service from the Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Master of Arts in geography from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Ph.D. in geography from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.