In this article, we will discuss the historical background and process of redistricting in Wyoming, focusing on the 2020 Census data. Redistricting is the process of redrawing political boundaries to ensure fair representation for all voters. The Wyoming Corporation and Redistricting committee recently held its first meeting to discuss the redistricting process for the state. This article will provide a step-by-step guide to redistricting, explaining the key points and criteria involved in this important process.
Introduction to Redistricting in Wyoming:
Redistricting is a critical process that ensures fair representation for all citizens in Wyoming. In this cycle, it aims to redraw the boundaries based on the population trends identified in the 2020 Census data. The process is known as redrawing districts, or reapportionment, and is intended to create substantially equal districts within a five percent deviation. The Wyoming State Legislature is responsible for redrawing districts based on the decennial census.
Guidelines for Redistricting:
The Wyoming Legislature has provided specific guidelines, known as the Banter Council Guidelines, to the Corporation and Redistricting committee. These guidelines require the committee to manage staff resources effectively and define general criteria, called principles, for drawing districts. The committee is also expected to draft a plan outlining how they will commence the redistricting process, including public hearings and meeting locations.
Understanding the 2020 Census Data:
The 2020 Census data plays a crucial role in the redistricting process. The census response rate increased significantly due to the introduction of online submission and the use of administrative records to confirm counts. Wyoming’s official resident count, used for redistricting, stood at 576,851, excluding military personnel stationed overseas. However, the apportionment count, which includes the overseas population, reached 577,719, reflecting a slight difference.
Current District Configurations:
In 2012, the Wyoming State Legislature passed House Enrolled Act 8, which established the current district configurations. The state has 60 house member districts and three senate member districts, with two house districts nested within each senate district. All districts were designed to have a plus or minus five percent deviation from the ideal population. While the constitution does not specify the exact number of seats, it requires the senate to be at least twice the size of the house.
Population Trends and District Ideal Size:
By analyzing the census data from 2000 to 2020, it is evident that Wyoming’s population has increased from 493,563 to 576,851. Each house district’s ideal population, assuming the 60-30 split, is 9,614, while the ideal population for a senate district is 19,228. This reflects a slight increase of approximately 220 persons per district since the 2010 census for the house and 440 for the senate district.
Analyzing Current Districts:
To gain a better understanding of the current district configurations, several examples were provided, focusing on metropolitan areas such as Cheyenne, Casper, Sheridan, Gillette, and Rock Springs. The maps show the positive and negative deviations from the ideal population in each district. Additionally, screenshots of the Geographic Information System (GIS) used for redistricting were presented, highlighting the various layers of census geography.
Conclusion and Next Steps:
The Corporation and Redistricting committee is responsible for managing the redistricting process in Wyoming. The committee will use the 2020 Census data to define new geographic boundaries for fair representation. The next steps involve adopting principles, which outline the criteria for drawing districts. The final plan will be submitted to the Legislature during the 2022 budget session, where a bill will be proposed to the session management council.
Redistricting is a complex process that requires careful analysis and consideration. By following the guidelines and principles set forth by the Corporation and Redistricting committee, Wyoming can ensure fair representation for all its residents. The 2020 Census data provides valuable insights, helping policymakers make informed decisions. The redistricting process will play a vital role in shaping the future of Wyoming’s political landscape, and it is essential for citizens to stay informed and engaged throughout the process.