A Plan with Principles: Curbing the Gerrymander in Minnesota’s 2001 Redistricting Process

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Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Scott Johnson, Political Science


Every ten years, a state legislature faces the responsibility of redistricting its state for the purpose of reapportionment. Although the new districts must be of equal population, there are countless possibilities by which the creators may proceed. As such, it is often argued that the party in control of redistricting manipulates district boundaries so as to maximize their party’s representative influence. This practice is known as gerrymandering—a term coined after Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry (Jeffersonian) approved a district in 1812 resembling the shape of a salamander so as to dilute the strength of the Federalists. My thesis project considers the extent to which partisan gerrymandering occurs and whether, in the event such plans are enacted, partisan gains are in fact realized. In a closer look at Minnesota’s 2001 Congressional redistricting process, my project demonstrates how, though redistricting should remain the responsibility of the legislature, the court’s involvement may provide important insight into how a fair plan can be created.