After months of waiting, we are about to receive official data from the U.S. Census Bureau which will allow us to move forward with our Constitutional obligation to reconfigure the state’s legislative districts. The official redistricting numbers will be released in a “legacy” format on August 16 at data.census.gov. This data, available through the website, will be in the form of zip files to import into databases. The same data will be released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 30 in a format that will be easier to view and download.
In South Dakota, we anticipate that by the last week in August, legislative staff will be able to have the data organized and loaded into our redistricting software to begin the process of drawing maps for the state.
The Legislative Redistricting Committees will meet August 30 in Pierre to review the data and begin charting our path forward. We will need to make decisions regarding the minimum and maximum population allowable in each district, as well as the size of the conurbation areas around Sioux Falls and Rapid City. We are planning a series of meetings in October at various locations throughout the state to solicit public input.
The redistricting process is something we do once every ten years. I believe it’s paramount that we involve the public as much as possible. As our redistricting committee moves forward, my goal is to give South Dakotans a voice in our discussions. Each of our committee meetings is broadcast through South Dakota Public Broadcasting, and each meeting includes opportunity for public testimony. We are developing a website that contains information needed to understand our constitutional and statutory requirements for redistricting. We are researching ways to allow the public to submit potential maps for the legislature to consider.
As the process unfolds, your thoughts and comments are welcome. You can send a general email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or reach me via email at email@example.com.