Minnesota has 67 state senate districts and 134 state house districts. According to federal and state laws, the districts must be equally divided in population, hence the requirement to re-draw voting district lines every 10 years after the U.S. Census.
Since the last census, the state's population grew nearly 8%. For example, Senate District 20, located in the western part of the state along the Minnesota River, lost about 15% of its population; Senate District 35 in Scott County saw a 37% increase.
In the state house, District 20A, located on the west side of the state, lost about 19% of its population. House District 35A in Scott County, saw a 51% rise in its population.
Since the governor and state legislature were not able to agree on new voting district boundaries, a special redistricting panel was assigned the task. All information contained herein came from two reports issued in February by the panel.
As the panel redrew lines, it tried to do so to preserve communities and to be fair to all, regardless of incumbent status.
-Using a "least-change strategy," the panel created state Senate District 14 which centers on St. Cloud, and accordingly, altered District 15. Senate District 7 was expanded to encompass more of Duluth.
-Because of population growth and shifts, "least-change" was not always an option. Districts 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 were substantially underpopulated compared to a decade ago. And on the flip side, the 11-county metropolitan region grew substantially.
-Many new districts are made up of "intact political subdivisions"—i.e.—population equality. The northwest counties of Kittson, Marshall, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake and Roseau compose state Senate District 1. Aitkin and Crow Wing counties are in District 10. In Scott County, the following cities are in state Senate District 55: Credit River, Jackson, Jordan, Louisville, Prior Lake, St. Lawrence, Sand Creek, Shakopee and Spring Lake. The southeastern counties of Fillmore and Houston are now in House District 28B.
-Not all new lines are neat and straight, or follow geographical features. Hutchinson is divided along state Highway 15 between House Districts 18A and 18B. North Branch is divided by I-35 between House Districts 32A and 32B.
-To maintain "communities of interest," a traditional redistricting principle among the courts, the Red River Valley is placed in as few legislative districts as possible. Moorhead and Detroit Lakes continues to share a senate district; Mankato, North Mankato and St. Peter also continue to share a senate seat. Most of Rochester continues to be in two House districts, now numbered 25B and 26A, with portions in two newly numbered House Districts 25A and 26B. The definition of "communities of interest" is the inclusion of groups of citizens with recognized similarities in social, geographical, cultural, political, ethnic, economic or other interests.
-Senate District 39 in the east includes many Washington County cities on the St. Croix River. And Elk River is no longer is in the same senate district as Ramsey and Anoka in nearby Anoka County. Elk River is with townships and cities that are not under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Council.
Minnesota's 2010 census population of 5,303,925 allows it to retain the eight congressional seats it was reapportioned since the 1960 census.
However, population shifts greatly affected the 4th District (7% population loss) and the 6th District (15% population gain).
Again, the panel strove to follow the "least-change" plan.
About 54% of the state's population now lives in the old seven-county metro area and 59% lives in the newer 11-county metro area as defined by Minnesota Election Law. The former seven-county area consisted of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties. Another four counties—Chisago, Isanti, Ramsey, Sherburne and Wright—now make up the metro 11.
-The panel maintained five congressional districts composed mostly of metro counties and three congressional districts mainly of counties in greater Minnesota.
-Population growth was highest in both the 2nd and 6th Districts.
-In the 8th District, the panel altered the existing split of Beltrami County to balance population numbers.
-In the 7th District, the panel expanded the line south by about 25 miles, adding Pipestone, Murray and part of Cottonwood counties.
-In the 6thDistrict, both St. Cloud and the St. Croix River communities are no longer included. The panel added part of Carver County and altered the existing line in Stearns. Portions of Washington County were placed in the 4th.
-The 5th and 4th Districts are the state's two core urban districts, centered on Minneapolis and St. Paul, respectively. The 5th District covers Minneapolis and all or part of the cities in Anoka and Hennepin counties that share a border with it. The 4th, which includes St. Paul, extends east to the river. It also takes in sections of Washington County.
-The 3rd District consists of greater Hennepin County, Coon Rapids in Anoka County, and Carver County municipalities of Chanhassen, Chaska, Victoria, Laketown and part of Dahlgren
-The 2nd District no longer includes Carver County. The district's west border follows the Minnesota River and it gains all of Wabasha County from the 1st District, in exchange for all of Le Sueur County and part of Rice County.
-The 1st District extends across the southern state border, but no longer includes the western counties of Pipestone, Murray or part of Cottonwood counties. It does still retain the cities of Rochester and Mankato.