The Arkansas Geographic Information Office released a contract specification on October 1st, 2010 covering the redistricting process. The release was at a meeting of the Arkansas County Clerks Association, in Little Rock. The redistricting process begins when the census population data for the 2010 census block is released. The U.S. Census Bureau projects the release of the census block boundaries will be published in February of 2011. Once the block data is published, County Election Commissions and Clerks can begin the work of redrawing County Justice of Peace Districts to ensure each district represents areas of equal population. Some counties may choose to hire contractors to perform the work.
The Arkansas Geographic Information Office drafted the redistricting specification so that counties or their contractors would have a guideline to follow that would result in a common GIS scheme regardless of whether the county has nine or thirteen Justice of Peace Districts. The specification was released well in advance of the Census result because counties are developing their 2011 budget and redistricting will take place in 2011. The specification can also be used by School Board Districts to establish new school board zones and Cities to draw out new city wards.
“Our collective goal is that no county go through redistricting using only a paper map. In this day and age there is no reason a county cannot do an all digital redistricting process,” said Shelby Johnson, State Geographic Information Officer. Johnson unveiled the redistricting specification to the County Clerks at their meeting. The goal is to have each of the 75 counties undertake redistricting and then in 2012 all 75 county files can be assembled into a seamless statewide version that will be published on GeoStor where it can be consumed and printed for any county as often as necessary.