In a Nutshell
State legislative maps should be ready for a first look soon.
The Deeper Dive
You’ve probably heard a lot about redistricting lately. Odds are, they were talking about Congressional redistricting. That’s where the Arkansas House and Senate redraw the lines for our state’s four Congressional representatives to Washington, D.C. – currently Steve Womack, Rick Crawford, French Hill, and Bruce Westerman.
But I want to talk for a bit about legislative redistricting. That’s where the Board of Apportionment redraws the boundaries for your state representatives and state senators – the folks who represent you in the General Assembly at the state level. Think of Sen. Jim Hendren, Rep. Matthew Shepherd, Sen. Joyce Elliott. They’re your local representatives.
Legislative Redistricting 101
Once every 10 years, the Governor, the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General join up to form the Board of Apportionment. These three state officials work with staff to redraw the districts to reflect the ways the population has shifted around the state in the previous decade. For instance, we know Northwest Arkansas has gained population at a rapid rate, while some other parts of Arkansas have lost population. Since districts should include roughly the same number of people, districts in Northwest Arkansas will likely get geographically smaller and districts in areas losing population will get geographically larger. That will end with more representatives from Northwest Arkansas to reflect the additional people living there.
A lot depends on what these districts look like. Who can run for what office is determined by these maps. If you’re thinking of running for the Arkansas House of Representatives or Arkansas Senate or if you are concerned about your representation, you want to pay attention over the next month or so.
These maps should be available for a first look soon. Keep your eye on the Board of Apportionment meeting on Friday, October 29, at 10:30 a.m. You can watch it in real time on PBS. There’s a public comment period after the release of the maps where your voice can be heard if you feel the maps don’t represent your area’s interests.
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