The Georgetown City Council is starting the process to rebalance the population in the city’s seven council districts, which is known as redistricting or reapportionment. The redistricting process happens after every decennial census.
At its Oct. 26 workshop, City Council will review 2020 Census information by district presented by Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta, a law firm hired by the City to advise the council during the redistricting process.
The Georgetown population as of April 1, 2020, was 66,880, which is a 41 percent increase in population from 47,400 persons in the 2010 census. This means that the ideal council district is now 9,554, which is the total of 66,880 persons divided by seven single-member districts. See the current City Council district maps at maps.georgetown.org.
These are the 2020 population numbers for each district and the percent deviation from the ideal district with 9,554 people.
District 7 has the largest population, which is approximately 40.8 percent, or 3,898 people, above the ideal district size. District 6 has the smallest population, which is approximately 26.86 percent, or 2,566 people, below the ideal district size.
Exact equality of population is not required for local political subdivisions. However, a total population deviation of no more than 10 percent between their most populated district and the least populated district should be the goal.
The council is expected to discuss redistricting criteria at their Oct. 26 workshop meeting. Traditional redistricting criteria examples that a governing body might wish to consider adopting include:
- Use of identifiable boundaries (e.g., roads or rivers)
- Using whole voting precincts, where possible and feasible; or, where not feasible, being sure that the plan lends itself to the creation of reasonable and efficient voting precincts
- Maintaining communities of interest (e.g., traditional neighborhoods)
- Basing the new plan on existing districts
- Adopting districts of approximately equal population
- Drawing districts that are compact and contiguous
- Keeping existing representatives in their districts
- Adjusting to comply with the Voting Rights Act and the Shaw v. Reno Supreme Court case
According to prior Supreme Court rulings, a governmental body must consider race when drawing districts if it is to comply with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act; however, if race is the predominant consideration in the process, the governmental body may be subject to a racial gerrymandering claim.
Members of the public may submit a redistricting plan that complies with guidelines to be adopted by the City Council. Proposed guidelines include the following: any submitted plan must be a complete plan showing the configuration of all districts and not just a selected one or several; and plans submitted for consideration must follow the adopted redistricting criteria.
City Council plans to hold several special sessions for redistricting in October, November, and December. A final plan needs to be adopted and submitted in advance of January 19, 2022 when candidates will begin to file for the May 2022 City Council elections.
Special redistricting City Council meetings will be open to the public and broadcast on the City’s website and on GTV cable channel 10. Details on these meetings will be shared once they have been determined. Information on the City Council redistricting process will be posted at georgetown.org.