League of Women Voters Redistricting Forum, postal code 57106, United States
Location: ,Sioux Falls,SDUnited States
League of Women Voters of South Dakota is hosting an educational forum on legislative redistricting and gerrymandering on Thursday, October 18th at 6:00 p.m.
Augustana Professor Emily Wanless will speak on redistricting at “Will Your Vote Count?” in the Little Theater at Lincoln High School, 2900 S. Cliff Avenue in Sioux Falls. Her opening talk will be followed by a panel discussion, and an audience participation exercise in redistricting.
The League of Women Voters of the United States, a ninety-eight year old, nonpartisan organization formed after women’s suffrage was enacted nationally, focuses primarily on upholding democracy through its “Making Democracy Work” programs. Educating voters, along with registering voters and encouraging voters to vote, is at the heart of League’s work.
League of Women Voters South Dakota has received a $10,000 grant from the national League of Women Voters to hold comprehensive public education forums on legislative redistricting. Six events will take place in cities across the state in October.
The forums are intended to increase voters’ knowledge and understanding of redistricting, how redistricting affects elections and alternatives to the current process.
The 2020 census will track population changes over the last 10 years and have a major impact on how legislative districts are redrawn in South Dakota. Currently, the state legislature draws those lines. In 2016, South Dakotans voted on a constitutional amendment which would have removed that power from the legislature and given it to a nine-member independent commission consisting of three Republican voters, three Democrat voters and three voters not affiliated with either of the two parties. That amendment was defeated, 57 percent to 43 percent.
Redistricting is an issue of democracy that is being addressed in the courts as well as by legislative action and ballot initiatives. A 2005 federal court case in South Dakota, Bone Shirt v. Nelson, forced the state to redraw district lines in the southwest part of the state. Two cases recently before the Supreme Court, from Wisconsin and Maryland, were sent back to the states for further attempts at redistricting. The cases drew claims of gerrymandering from both Republicans and Democrats.
Emily Wanless earned her bachelor’s degree from Clemson University (political science major) and her master’s degree in political science from the University of Montana. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Georgia. Dr. Wanless’ teaching and research interests include American politics, institutions and elections. Most recently, she served as an adjunct faculty member for the University of Georgia’s Department of Political Science, School of Public and International Affairs. Ahead of the 2018 South Dakota legislative session, Wanless was chosen by South Dakota lawmakers to head the Initiative and Referendum Task Force, which examined potential changes to the initiated measure, constitutional amendment and referred law processes.