Every 10 years, the census rolls out.
It is used as a tool to determine the boundaries of congressional districts. However, it also plays a role in the form of school supervision districts and counties.
A redistribution meeting held last week in Nevada County was one of the first steps towards a possible redesign of district lines.
Douglas Yoakam, consultant for the National Demographics Corporation, and Steve Monaghan, county information manager, chaired the meeting.
“Every Nevada County resident should be a part of the redistribution process,” Monaghan said.
Census data will be available on August 16, a late date due to the pandemic and a debate in Congress over what should be included in the census, Yoakam said.
According to Yoakam, every 10 years, the supervision districts could be redesigned, to make them function more efficiently and more equitably. This requires feedback from residents. However, the process is guided by the population enumeration certified by the Census Bureau.
In February, supervisors elected a county staff advisory committee to recommend the district boundaries. Supervisors will have the final say on these limits.
Additional data will be included during the first official public hearing, scheduled for August 24 in Truckee, which will include feedback from residents of communities of interest. COIs are geographic areas that have a shared social or economic interest that may be affected by county politics such as transportation, housing, or public safety emergencies, such as fire protection.
In subsequent public hearings, residents will be able to contribute their ideas on maps and access mapping tools.
Under state law, counties are required to follow many redistribution guidelines. A district should be roughly equal in population. And elections must follow federal voting rights law.
“We cannot deliberately discriminate against a protected class of voters, either by dividing them or combining them in a way that takes away their right to elect a supervisor of their choice – no racial gerrymandering,” said Yoakam.
The state’s Fair Maps Act requires that a district be geographically contiguous. If possible, it cannot divide geographic areas held together by units of interest (COI), ethnic enclaves, or designated census locations. Additionally, a neighborhood should use easily identifiable boundaries, such as rivers or a main road, rather than a winding boundary used to divide neighborhoods.
“Also, compact the districts as much as possible, not bypassing one group of people to gain access to another group, which might favor one political party over another,” Yoakam said.
It is vital that county residents consider participating in the redistribution, said Taylor Wolfe, county administrative analyst.
“This process takes place every 10 years after the enumeration to ensure that each council member represents the same number of voters,” she said. “Redistribution determines which wards and communities are grouped together in a district for the purpose of electing a council member.”
October 22 is the deadline for the first drafts of maps based on public comment, Yoakam said. November 9 will be the second official hearing. The final adoption of the cutting order is set for December 14.
William Roller is an editor for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. He can be contacted at [email protected]