Washington County will be part of the statewide process of assuring that voters are in election districts that are equal in population.

Redistricting is the act of redrawing geographic boundaries within a state from which voters elect their U.S. Representatives, state legislators, county commissioners, and local officials. The process of redistricting will use the 2020 Census data to draw new boundaries that will be in effect for the next 10 years.

By law, the state Legislature is charged with adopting new congressional and legislative districts by Feb. 15, 2022. If the Legislature is unable to pass a plan that gains the approval of the Governor, the Minnesota courts will step in and create a plan. After the state sets the congressional and legislative districts, municipalities will create their election precincts. And finally, after all the individual precincts are established, the county will determine county commissioner districts. The county anticipates that process to occur in April 2022.

Redistricting of county commissioner districts is required if they are no longer contiguous, vary in population more than 10% from the average commissioner district population, or the districts are not as close to equal in population as possible.

The County Board is asking county residents to review proposed redistricting principles that the board will use to oversee the process. Comments may be entered in the form below, with a deadline of Nov. 29. Residents may also comment in person during the County Board meeting Nov. 30. The board will take action on the principles Dec. 14. The principles are voluntary, but add clarity to the redistricting process, in addition to requirements already in place.

All of the redistricting work must be done prior to the opening of candidate filings in May 2022 for 2022 elections.

  1. 2022 Proposed Principles
  • Number of Districts: The County will have 5 Commissioner Districts with a single commissioner for each district.*
  • Population Deviation: Commissioner Districts will meet the population deviation required by state statute, unless doing so is not possible because of the lack of authority to split precincts. 
  • Contiguous Territory: Each Commissioner District shall be composed of contiguous territory. 
  • Regular and Compact in Form: Commissioner Districts must be regular and compact in form to the extent practicable considering the geography of the county and the existence of other principles. 
  • Relationship to Other Boundaries: Commissioner Districts will be drawn using town, municipal, ward or precinct lines established by the cities and townships. 
  • State and Constitutional Standards: The County Redistricting Plan shall conform with all applicable statutory and constitutional standards. 
  • Dividing of Political Subdivisions: The County Redistricting Plan will avoid the dividing of political subdivisions unless necessary to meet the principle of equal population.
  • Public Notice and Participation: At least three weeks in advance of acting to redistrict the county board will publish notice of the date, time, and location of meetings at which redistricting will be considered.  There will be public notice of all meetings related to redistricting and the opportunity for public input throughout the process. 
  • Preserving Communities of Interest: Commissioner Districts should attempt to preserve communities of interest, i.e., areas with similarities of interests, including but not limited to, ethnic, geographic, economic, social and cultural interests where that can be done in compliance with the other principles.  
  • Minority Representation: Commissioner Districts shall not be drawn with either the purpose or effect of denying or abridging the voting rights of any county citizen on account of race, ethnicity, or membership in a language minority group.  
  • Incumbents: Commissioner Districts shall not be drawn for the purpose of protecting or defeating incumbents and should not result in either undue incumbent protection or excessive incumbent conflicts. 
  • Staggered Terms: In determining which commissioner districts will have 2-year terms to allow for staggered terms as required by the law, the county board shall consider which commissioner districts were given 2-year terms as part of the previous two redistricting plans and rotate the 2-year terms equally amongst the given districts.

*Minnesota Statute 375.056 allows counties to create a seven-member board if their population is 100,000.

  1. Redistricting Dates of Interest
  • Nov. 30, 2021– County Board receives public comment on proposed redistricting principles
  • Dec. 14, 2021 –County Board adopts redistricting principles
  • April 13, 2022 – Redistricting options available on county website; search “redistricting”
  • April 19, 2022 – County Board receives public comment on redistricting options
  • April 26, 2022 – County Board adopts Commissioner and Soil and Water Conservation election districts

Statutory schedule:

  • Feb. 15, 2022 – new congressional and legislative districts are drawn
  • March 29, 2022 – establishment of redistricting of municipal precincts
  • April 26, 2022 – establishment of new local government election districts (county, soil and water conservation, school district, etc.)
  • May 17, 2022 – candidate filings open
  • Aug. 9, 2022 – State Primary based on newly-drawn districts
  • Nov. 8, 2022 – State General Election based on newly-drawn districts