The people of South Dakota have vested the Legislature with the responsibility of drawing fair and equitable legislative districts that represent populations of common interest within specific geographic locations. Our goal as a Senate in redistricting is to offer a map that accomplishes our Constitutional requirements in a transparent manner.
Based on Census data, constitutional limitations, statutory requirements, and public input, we have developed proposal for how the new legislative boundaries might look. We will be taking additional public input before presenting a recommendation to the full legislature during the Special Session on redistricting set for November 8 in Pierre.
Our guiding principles in developing this map include:
- Population: Based on the Constitutional requirement of “one person, one vote,” the ideal district size is 25,333. The courts have held that plans with an overall deviation of 10% between the least- and most-populous districts are presumptively constitutional. Our committee worked to develop districts that were no more than five percent below or five percent above the ideal population size.
- Communities of Interest: The tribal nations have provided invaluable insights on legislative issues through the years. We currently have House seats in 26A, 27 and 28A and Senate seats in 26 and 28 with a majority of voters who identify as a minority. Preserving these Native and minority voices is essential to the makeup of South Dakota’s legislature. As we began the process, we looked for possibilities to increase the number of tribal districts. However, geography and population limitations made those efforts unsuccessful, thus our proposal leaves much of Districts 26, 27, and 28 unchanged except for work needed to meet equal population requirements.
- Continuity: One of the features of the legislative map implemented in 2012 is that it avoids dividing counties among multiple districts where possible. Our proposal keeps 22 of the state’s 35 districts largely as they were drawn ten years ago, with some refinements needed to reflect population changes. We also looked at maps from the 1970s through 2011 to compare historical changes. It should be noted that the 1970s saw the first iteration of a legislative district map based on equal population and equal representation.
- Urban/Rural: As South Dakota’s population grows, most of that growth is in our urban areas, especially in population centers along the I-29 corridor. Yet, agriculture remains the state’s number one industry. Many are afraid that as rural voices in the legislature have eroded over time, Sioux Falls and Rapid City will dominate the legislature. Our solution is to keep urban districts as compact as possible and make the rural districts as rural as possible.
- Common Interests: State law requires us to look for areas of common interest. In addition to considering urban/rural issues, our proposal considers city boundaries and neighboring communities, tribal nations, school districts (many of which cross county lines), population centers, topography, common heritage, and a variety of other factors (media markets, past districts, transportation corridors, etc.). Our goal is to offer a plan that creates districts for the people who live there and entrust legislators to advocate on their behalf in the Capitol.
- Feedback: Redistricting is an interactive process and feedback from the public is crucial. Our map incorporates ideas brought to us from colleagues and local leaders throughout the state to reflect their area and the state as a whole.
Population changes in central South Dakota will require current Districts 23 and 24 to be reconfigured. Since 1982, the proposed lines for District 23 have existed in some form or another. Nearly identical to the current district, Campbell, Edmunds, Faulk, Hand, McPherson, Potter and Walworth remain in place. We propose making Spink County whole again (right now it is split between two districts) and bringing in a portion of western Brown County to meet the required population.
District 24 needs to add 1,880 people to make a complete district. We propose bringing Haakon County into the current district, giving this area the same district lines it had from 1972 to 1982.
You can find the complete map on the LRC website under the Senate Redistricting committee documents as the “Blackbird” proposal. The Senate Redistricting Committee adopted this proposal by a vote of 6-1, and will continue to encourage public feedback throughout the process as we consider additional changes.
Here’s a link to the map: October Tour – Full Map Proposal – Senate – Iris (sdlegislature.gov)