Originally published: June 8, 2021.

Montana will be getting a second seat in Congress. The lines for the two new districts will soon be drawn. On top of that, the lines for state legislative districts will also be drawn.

The big battles on both of those fronts have not really yet begun, but some of the battle lines are now being drawn.

On Tuesday, Republican appointees on the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission announced their proposed redistricting criteria. This is the framework they hope to be used in the upcoming redistricting process this Fall.

According to a press release from GOP appointees Dan Stusek and Jeff Essmann, the mandatory criteria differs from the provisions of HB 506 passed by the recent Montana Legislature.

The proposed mandatory criteria provide that political subdivision lines of Montana towns, cities, counties, and Indian Reservations be respected "to the greatest extent possible" and provide definition for the terms "compact and contiguous."

Here's what both of the Republican appointees had to say about the criteria, and the redistricting process:

Dan Stusek: Our feeling is that most Montanans want two Congressional Districts that make sense and that these objective criteria will reduce the temptation for partisan gamesmanship

Jeff Essmann: Our criteria are the first that recognize the legal and political reality of Indian reservations as communities that deserve recognition on the same level as Montana cities and counties.

Discretionary criteria proposed by the Republican Commissioners called for observing school district boundaries as requested at an early meeting of the Commission by Montana Election Officials.

Click here for the full list of criteria released by the Republican appointees: Mandatory Criteria for Legislative Districts

Read More: Sheila Stearns Steps Down from Redistricting Role in Montana |

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