Marginalized Teams Look to Get on the (Redistricting) Map


NARF is working nationwide with organizers in Alaska, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota, and locally in parts of Michigan, Minnesota, Utah and Wisconsin on a new project called Fair Districting in Indian Country. They will use mapping software to define parishes down to street level and help them suggest where to draw county officials.

Back in June, the Western Native Voice advocacy group asked its organizers in Montana – which is getting a second seat in the House of Representatives due to population growth – to use this software and send data about their communities to NARF. In a three-day training session in Bozeman, southern Montana this month, WNV leaders stressed that communities of interest could be defined not just by race and ethnicity, but something as specific as a shared water source that is at risk of pollution.

Now that the census data is out, the first task is to “explain it to the organizers and the field team because it is likely going to the general public in a somewhat messy format,” said Keaton Sunchild, political director of Western Native Voice. said in an interview on Thursday morning. “We will explain what it means to them and then we will use this data to formulate our message” for a hearing of the state redistribution commission in October.

Before that hearing, Sunchild said, Western Native Voice organizers will speak to tribal leaders about their priorities. For example, he said, the Crow Tribe and Northern Cheyenne Tribe in southern Montana share a state legislative district and do not want to be separated in the redistribution.

Beyond mapping, advocates wanting officials to be reallocated to treat certain groups as communities of interest must show that those groups are interrelated, meaning they have common interests that justify keeping them together.

Mr Makhija cited a study by Indian American Impact in Georgia which found that a large majority of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – and even larger majorities of Indian Americans – voted democratically in the presidential and Senate runoffs. He said the group plans to conduct similar research in other states and will focus its efforts on California, Georgia, New York and Texas.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund also plans to push the redistribution of civil servants to states with independent commissions to treat LGBTQ people as interest groups, my colleague Aishvarya Kavi reported on Wednesday. The Victory Fund cites the success story of creating a San Diego city council neighborhood that focuses on the Hillcrest neighborhood; this district was elected San Diego’s first openly gay official in the 1990s and has been represented by a member of the LGBTQ community ever since.