FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 25, 2019
Little Rock, Arkansas
Revised Publication of State’s Election Precincts
The Arkansas Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Office is announcing the publication of revisions to the state’s election precinct boundaries. The announcement culminates over a year’s worth of work by the Arkansas Secretary State Elections Division, the County Clerk Offices and the Arkansas GIS Office.
A little-known portion of election law requires the Arkansas GIS Office to coordinate on a digital map of altered precinct boundaries with the County Clerks, and to submit a consolidated report of all election precinct changes to the U.S. Census Bureau in the years preceding the decennial Census.
The GIS Office coordinated closely with the Secretary of State Office Elections Division. That part of the effort was led by State Election Director, Leslie Bellamy and her election coordinators. The review work was done by the County Clerks. Some of the changes include situations where County Election Commissions merged precincts, or realigned precincts to reflect local needs. In other cases, precincts representing municipal areas were revised due to city boundaries changing where a city annexed in new territory.
These revised boundaries were updated and then pushed to the gis.arkansas.gov system for distribution to GIS users and the public. For GIS users, the data set is now published on the platform and is titled “Election Precincts.” The public can view the map online by visiting gis.arkansas.gov then choosing the Election Precincts option under the Maps menu.
The information will simultaneously be used for reporting to the U.S. Census Bureau in the Voting Tabulation District (VTD) program. This update had to be completed in 2019 to allow a final review period prior to the next Census. When the 2020 Census is completed, population can be summarized by election precincts as well as other levels. The election precinct boundaries may become a cornerstone of the redistricting activity that will take place in 2021. “To underscore the significance, you only have to look back at 2011. That was the first time in the history of Arkansas that Congressional District lines split up counties. For example, before then all of Crawford and Sebastian counties were in the Third Congressional District. After redistricting, half of Crawford and Sebastian counties were split between the Third and Fourth Congressional Districts. The General Assembly followed the precinct lines to do those splits,” said Shelby Johnson, Director of the GIS Office. Election precincts represent an efficient way for geographers, demographers and redistricting consultants to develop redistricting plans that allow for equal representation of population.
In prior decades, these changes were submitted to the Census Bureau as paper maps. In this decade however, the Census Bureau is directly ingesting the precincts as a Geographic Information System (GIS) layer. This allows them to process that information into the national database in a far more efficient manner.
Users can access this data for download or to add to map services here
The data can also be viewed here