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Voter redistricting in South Dakota hits a bump, public meetings still being held

PIERRE, SD – The public listening tour that the Senate and House Legislative Redistricting Committees are taking this week may help bridge the gap over proposed voter districting maps that are redrawn once every 10 years.

At their last meeting, Senate members voted to approve their version of the districts around Sioux Falls. House members disagreed.

Committee Member Jim Bolin says there will need to be further negotiations.

“There’s going to have to be some give and take between members within each chamber and between the two chambers.”

Current South Dakota legislative district map. Many districts will be redrawn to account for population changes in the 2020 census. Photo South Dakota Secretary of State

Ryan Cwach, another committee member,  says there are a lot of pieces to fit together.

“We’re basically cutting out puzzle pieces of South Dakota. Each puzzle piece has to have close to 25,000 people in it.  There are a million ways you can do that.  I don’t think there is an absolutely right map. But I think there are a lot of maps that could be drawn that would be fair.”

The House and Senate Legislative Redistricting Committees  will hold more public sessions this week in Box Elder, Mission, Mobridge, Aberdeen, Watertown and Sioux Falls.

Cwach of Yankton, says the local input is important.

“I’m looking to hear how people want representation drawn on a map; what’s important to them.”

He adds that there can be local issues that have an impact on how a district should be drawn.

“It’s important to hear from locals about geographical divisions and other issues, that have a big impact on how people work or shop or in other ways they use their community. I wouldn’t necessarily be aware of those.”

Bolin says if legislators can’t reach agreement, the decision will be taken out of their hands.

“If there can’t be an agreement by December  1st, the redistricting process will go before the South Dakota Supreme Court.  To the best of my knowledge, that’s never happened.  But the potential of that happening is out there.”

Legislators are scheduled to hold a special session on November 8th to approve the final district maps.

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