by Max Brantley
The Bureau of Legislative Research says in a statement issued through the House speaker's office that the congressional redistricting maps were drawn correctly. It says U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford was mistaken in suggesting the description of voting precincts listed in legislation for the 1st Congressional District omitted some small islands including Wabbaseka in Jefferson County and left them in the 4th District.
The bureau says that's not so and the news release with explanation follows.
Republican huffing and puffing on this has been exaggerated so far, so I wouldn't expect a ready acceptance of this explanation. I'm trying to reach Crawford's office for comment.
LITTLE ROCK— The Bureau of Legislative Research, whose staff drafted the new Congressional district map used for Act 1241 of 2011, says the redistricting legislation is correct, and all precincts are accounted for within their intended districts.
House Speaker Robert S. Moore, Jr., asked the Bureau to review the matter after receiving a letter last week from Congressman Rick Crawford, concerned that Jefferson County voting precincts 90 and 751, intended for the First District, appear to be left as Fourth District precincts. The Bureau says while voting precincts 90 and 751, along with Precinct 10, are not specifically named in Act 1241, they are located within the geographic boundaries of three voting districts the Act does list as being in the First District. Voting Precinct 90 exists within Voting District P91 (Roberts); Voting Precinct 751 exists within Voting District 19 (Dunnington); and Voting Precinct 10 exists within Voting District P15 (Dudley Lake).
The naming discrepancy comes from an inconsistency in the way the precincts are named in the Jefferson County-defined election districts, and those defined by the U.S. Census Bureau data, which drafters are required to use in drawing new boundaries. The nomenclature does not affect the legislation, and it should not even impact local polling sites, since the precincts in question each already share a voting location with the voting district named by the Act.
"Ensuring equal representation through Congressional redistricting is one of the most important tasks before the General Assembly every ten years," said Speaker Moore. "I am pleased we are able to ensure all Arkansas voters are accurately accounted for in their respective Congressional Districts."