by Max Brantley
Republicans will continue to make hay of this regardless, but the problem raised by U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Jonesboro) over the new congressional district maps is NOT a problem of the map.
The portion of Jefferson County intended to be moved from the 4th to the 1st District was clear on the maps presented to legislators and voted. What's deficient is the listing of precincts that make up that portion of the county in the 1st District. The list was apparently based on U.S. Census data. It apparently didn't include two precincts listed in that portion of the county by the Jefferson County Election Commission (a bipartisan group, I'd note). There'll be lots of finger-pointing before the responsibility for that administrative error is determined and corrected. But, by any fair account, this isn't a mapping error. It might even be fixable on that account without a legislative change necessary. The intention of the legislature was clear and is illustrated by the map (above) shown at committee meetings at which the plan was approved. Two tiny islands with fewer than 300 voters was not intended or illustrated in the maps. The legislation's recitation of precincts in the area of Jefferson County wasn't complete because the resource data weren't complete.
Understand, the problem needs to be ironed out. What remains to be seen is whether Crawford simply wants an understandable ministerial error corrected but wants to leverage it into maximum political advantage or whether he hopes to leverage it into a reopening of the whole subject (unlikely).