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SB 80: Bolin Fritters at the County and Municipal Edges of Gerrymandering

While the League of Women Voters and numerous allies consider initiating a Constitutional amendment to create an independent redistricting commission, the Legislature has one bill relating to its power to draw the boundaries of Legislative districts. Senator Jim Bolin (R-16/Canton), a crafty elitist on whom we must keep close watch, has proposed Senate Bill 80, which leaves intact his and his partisan colleagues’ power to rig the map in favor of their reëlection and natters at the edges of the non-binding principles in which they cloak their selfish decennial labors.

Senate Bill 80 updates the redistricting criteria statute (SDCL 2-2-41) to refer to 2021’s round of mapping. SB 80 then adds one phrase, clarifying that the respect legislators are to give to “geographical and political boundaries” when gerrymandering are “specifically, counties and municipalities.”

That specification appears to remove consideration of rivers, highways, contour lines, and any other geographical markings that might come up in any good cartographical activity. Whether such geographical diversity crops up in any redistricting discussion seems unlikely.

SB 80’s specification of county and municipal boundaries as objects of respect seems to do nothing to change the inevitable division of our largest cities, which is where our one-party regime does its best gerrymandering. Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Aberdeen are each home to more people than can be in one Legislative district, so Criterion #3 of the Legislature’s professed redistricting principles can’t be followed, and the Legislature will thus continue to carve up our largest metro populations into wild shapes that pack and crack any Democratic voting populations.

South Dakota Legislative Districts, Sioux Falls metro area, screen cap from LRC, 2021.01.26.
South Dakota Legislative Districts, Sioux Falls metro area, screen cap from LRC, 2021.01.26.
South Dakota Legislative Districts, Rapid City metro area, screen cap from LRC, 2021.01.26.
South Dakota Legislative Districts, Rapid City metro area, screen cap from LRC, 2021.01.26.
South Dakota Legislative Districts, Aberdeen metro area, screen cap from LRC, 2021.01.26.
South Dakota Legislative Districts, Aberdeen metro area, screen cap from LRC, 2021.01.26.

It’s not Senator Bolin to propose such a minimally effective piece of legislation. Keep an eye on him when he brings Senate Bill 80 to Senate State Affairs Wednesday morning; SB 80 could be just a hoghouse vehicle to entertain other, broader notions rattling around in Republican heads for rigging the election map through 2030.

5 Comments

  1. John 2021-01-26

    We don’t need a well-intended, toothless joint resolution. We need a constitutional amendment.

    It appears to this pilgrim that the foundational beginning for voting districts should rest upon the boundaries of school districts. School districts are compact for reasons. One can, in towns, drill-down to junior high and/or grade school districts to achieve one-person, one-vote representation. One can, and should, co-opt adjacent districts in sparsely populated areas. Some county-whole or county plus districts are sensible for less populated areas.

    This ‘legislators picking their voters’ crap has to stop. There are 2 other ways to stop the steady creep of legislators over-reach. 1) Term limits – strengthen them; and 2) ban legislators pay, only the same per-diem rate afforded to all state employees. The nation’s founding fathers did not want salaries for congress, arguing that such service was voluntary – forcing legislators to be closer to their voters.

  2. Donald Pay 2021-01-26

    Rapid City districts 32, 34, and 35 are gerrymandered to split the Indian vote and the poor and lower middle class vote across the northern part of the city. Lumping these areas started in 1991 with Sen. Sears effort to create safe Republican districts in Rapid City, and it’s been perfected over the last several decades. It didn’t quite work as planned in 1990, because you had one Senator who voted for New Jersey garbage, and Sharon Green stuck it right up his rectum. She lost the subsequent election, though. And you had Carol Maiki in Black Hawk able to win. And LInda Lee Viken held on for a time. But then, things changed. Even before the redistricting in 2001, it became difficult to win in Rapid.

    Norton Acres has no business being in District 9. I’m not sure how to judge the rest of Sioux Falls anymore.

  3. grudznick 2021-01-26

    Mr. H is righter than right about Mr. Bolin’s political acumen and sharp mind. He is likely up to something entertaining for grudznick.

    Mr. Pay, do you know what would be interesting for Rapid City? If Mr. Stan returned, now in the district numbered 30, and drove out some of those insanest fellows, or that gal. He could do it if he wanted.

  4. Donald Pay 2021-01-26

    Grudz, I had problems with Stan on the environmental issues I was involved with, but he was a decent man and really good on some issues I had an interest in, like education. On the minus side, he was an elitist, and like you, didn’t much like people initiating laws.

  5. Donald Pay 2021-01-27

    In Wisconsin, gerrymandering has become a public health issue. Because of gerrymandering the majority of the state that has supported Democrats in legislative races is not reflected in who gets elected. It gerry-rigged, so to speak, to elect Republicans, who, by and large, are covidiots, who monkey-wrench our governor’s attempts to address the public health crisis and its economic fall-out.

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