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Minnesota Legislature

Fixing an election 'quirk'

Published (3/6/2009)
By Nick Busse
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Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky testifies before the House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections Committee March 3 in support of a bill that would address St. Paul City Council elections. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Mpls) wants to make sure that a “quirk” in state law doesn’t leave people in some cities without representation on their city councils after redistricting.

Kahn sponsors HF653, which is designed to prevent a problem that occurs when city council elections are held after a census has occurred, but before the city’s ward boundaries are redrawn based on census data.

In essence, in cities using a ward system, such as Minneapolis and St. Paul, city council candidates campaign and get elected in the old ward boundaries, only to end up representing the new ward boundaries. Kahn said this leaves some city residents without equal representation.

“This is a basic aspect of democracy, and it’s just fixing up a quirk in state law that needs to be fixed,” Kahn said.

The bill was approved March 3 by the House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections Committee. It now goes to the House floor.

Kahn successfully amended the bill with language that Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky said would prevent it from causing problems with St. Paul’s city council elections.

A companion, SF834, sponsored by Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul), was laid over Feb. 26 by the elections subcommittee of the Senate State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee.

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