The Department of Transformation and Shared Services (TSS) Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has released the new state legislative district boundaries as part of redistricting efforts, in both PDF and interactive map form.
Redistricting occurs every ten years, aligning with the U.S. Census data release to ensure fairness and equality regarding state legislative representation. In October, the Board of Apportionment, which is made up of Governor Asa Hutchinson, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Secretary of State John Thurston, released draft versions of the new maps and tasked the GIS Office with conducting a technical review of the boundaries. Their findings were presented to the Board and incorporated into the final versions. The new maps reflect several changes and improvements that include:
• Improved the compactness of districts
• Found places where both the House and Senate lines could run together
• Avoided splitting school districts
• Avoided geographic barriers and splitting some cities
In addition to these improvements, the GIS team designed paper versions of the district maps, which have greatly increased in detail, allowing citizens to view street-level detail in a PDF or printed version. The file names indicate the house or senate district number and the dimensions of the map in inches. The district maps were designed to be printed at high resolution on large format paper. The public can download the file and take to any local blueprint shop or business that provides large format printing services.
Public input was highly valued throughout this process which led to a 30-day extension of public comment. Over 800 public comments were submitted via the Arkansas Board of Apportionment website, and some adjustments were made based on these recommendations.
“I want to thank the public for engaging in this and understanding the importance of it [ the process] and want everyone in the public to understand we heard you,” said Governor Hutchinson, who serves as the Chairman of the Board of Apportionment.
The Board of Apportionment received U.S. Census partial population data on August 12, 2021, more detailed demographic data on September 30, 2021, and presented the new maps on October 29, 2021.
“This redistricting effort has been incredible in such a condensed time period,” said Attorney General and member of the Board of Apportionment, Leslie Rutledge.
The next steps involve County Clerk offices across the state assigning voters to the new districts in time for the 2022 election. “We knew County Clerks, Election Commissioners, candidates and the public needed to see these new districts at a high level of detail. Our team put in the extra hours to get these produced as fast as possible so that they could get their work underway”, said Shelby Johnson, GIS Director.
The final approval was given on November 29, 2021. If there are no legal barriers, these maps will become law on December 30, 2021. Maps and the data will be available to the public on 11/30/2021 on gis.arkansas.gov. Please visit the below links for more information.