ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Every 10 years lines are redrawn to determine federal, state, and local districts.
Districts determine what elected officials will represent a particular area in the state as well as the money and resources allocated to different parts of the state. The lines are drawn to make every district have equal representation. Kymara Seals, policy director of Arkansas Public Policy Panel, said representation matters.
“One of the things we want to keep in mind is that citizens should elect, select their legislators, we don’t want the legislators selecting the people they represent,” Seals said.
In Arkansas, the General Assembly makes the decisions about the congressional districts, for which there are four. The legislature is meeting this week to discuss different proposed maps by lawmakers from different sides of the aisle.
“We don’t want to break up communities, like lines going down the middle of communities, communities of interest that’ll share something in common,” Seals said.
Jennifer Price, Washington County Election Commissioner, said local redistricting can impact people’s daily lives.
“Where your dollars are spent, who is deciding things for you at the local level, that’s your quorum court, your city council, and school district,” Price said.
While the Arkansas legislature makes the four congressional districts. The Board of Apportionment made up of the Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General draws the lines for state representatives and state senators. While local leaders and election commissions draw local district lines for quorum courts and city councils.
More than 3 million people live in Arkansas according to the 2020 census. As populations shift in the state, some areas like Northwest Arkansas could see more representation while other areas may now see less.
“The more people we have at the Capitol fighting for us, the better,” Seals said.
The Arkansas Center for Public Policy is hosting a virtual redistricting seminar on Thursay to talk about the process in Arkansas.