Sep 15, 2021 - Politics

Arkansas set to redraw voting maps this month

Arkansas Congressional districts
Map: Axios Visuals

There's not much that's less sexy than redrawing congressional maps following the census, the process commonly called redistricting.

  • But it's a necessary and important part of our democratic process.

What's happening: State lawmakers will reconvene Sept. 29, which is an extension of their regular session. The plan is to redraw boundaries for Arkansas' four congressional districts.

  • The boundaries divide voters into blocs based on population — and each district elects state representatives to the U.S. House.

Why it matters: Congressional districts are set for 10 years. They determine who represents Arkansas at the federal level. Congressional districts also determine federal funding for things like infrastructure, public health and education.

  • Given Arkansas' recent Republican voting record, it's not likely the state's congressional seats are going to Democrats anytime soon.
  • However, if political winds change in one part of the state during the next decade, Democrats could flip a House seat.
Percentage change in Arkansas county populations from 2010 to 2020
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

By the numbers: The 2020 Census shows the population in two-thirds of Arkansas counties decreased over the past decade — mostly in rural counties.

  • At the same time, Benton and Washington counties grew by 28.5% and 21%, respectively.
  • Fewer people mean less voting power, funding and representation, which exacerbates challenges for rural Arkansans.

What to watch: State House and Senate committees will meet three times leading up to the general assembly: Sept. 20, 23 and 27. The committees will consider redistricting bills and hear public testimony.

  • Arkansas Times has a good primer on the proposals made so far.

Zoom in: At the same time, the board of apportionment is considering congressional districts for federal representation. It is also considering boundaries for the state's 100 House and 35 Senate seats that represent citizens in Little Rock.

  • The board of apportionment is comprised of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Secretary of State John Thurston and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The board is in charge of redrawing the state's boundaries.
  • Betty Dickey, the coordinator of the board, told an audience in August that she hopes the board can get maps drawn by October.

Get involved: On the federal level, let your representatives know your thoughts about the congressional district boundaries.


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