Redistricting and the ‘Kahn Rule’
MN Midterm Elections 2023
Due to a change in state statute over a decade ago, which was further solidified by Minneapolis voters via referendum in the 2020 General Election, Minneapolis City Council Member term lengths changed from regular four-year terms to irregular two-year and four-year terms. The change in statute is commonly referred to as the “Kahn Rule.” That is because former Minnesota State Representative Phyllis Kahn, in 2010, introduced legislation aimed at elections in Minneapolis though also has implications for St. Paul.
This legislative change, which was overwhelmingly approved in both the MN House and Senate, effectively decoupled the city council election from the mayoral election on the ballot thus elections are held more often in Minneapolis. City council members served a two-year term in 2021 and will serve another two-year term following the election on November 7, 2023 (with the official new term beginning in the new year 2024). The city council and mayor will be rejoined on the ballot for voters in the 2025 election. The results will determine who is elected to serve as mayor and city council in Minneapolis over the next four years together.
The intention behind the ‘Kahn Rule’ was to improve the electoral process as it relates to redistricting. Redistricting is a mandatory process of redrawing the boundaries of election districts to ensure equal population density after population change. Redistricting is based on data from the decennial Census count, which was last held in 2020. The process of the census count and redistricting ensued over the next two years, and while the new boundaries took effect in March of 2022, voters will have the opportunity to elect their city council representative in their newly drawn districts in this year’s General Election. Election Day is November 7, 2023, but early voting in Minneapolis commenced on September 22 nd.
Had the ‘Kahn Rule’ not been in place, voters would have had to wait until 2025 to vote in their newly drawn districts. Consequently, some voters, whose ward or district boundaries changed, would have been displaced from the previous electoral process that resulted in their current elected official for an additional two years.
Key takeaway from redistricting: congressional, state, city, and park districts, as well as precincts and voting poll locations, may have changed. Know your voting poll location before you show up!
Learn where to vote, and who and what is on your ballot, by visiting www.mnvotes.org. St. Paul city council members will serve another four-year term. St. Paul elections were already staggered between the council and mayor. The change in statute, known as the ‘Kahn Rule,’ doesn’t appear to impact St. Paul elections until after the 2030 Census. Be prepared to vote more often!
J. Deebaa Sirdar
Guest Editor, Black Votes Matter MN
NOVEMBER 7, 2023