The city of Maricopa currently sits in Arizona’s 23rd Legislative District, which includes most of Pinal County;the 7th Congressional District, which also encompasses most of Tucson and Yuma; and the 3rd Pinal County Board of Supervisor’s District, which covers the western part of the county.
All that is set to change.
Two more county districts coming
Pinal county’s population more than doubled between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, growing from 180,000 to 375,000. That growth has triggered a process that will add two additional county supervisor districts, enlarging the board from three to five members.
According to Pinal County Elections Department Director Steve Kizer, each district will have about 70,000 people.
Kizer pointed out that the lines are not drawn in a vacuum, but are carefully thought out to meet stringent requirements set by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Voting Rights Act and legal challenges through the years have resulted from redistricting efforts that did not take into account certain protected classes.
Retrogression, or a diminishing of the ability of protected classes to be able to elect the candidate of their choice, is of particular concern in a diverse population such as Arizona’s.
“We must make sure that there is no retrogression for protected classes when we create the new voting districts,” Kizer stated. Other factors taken into account are population demographics, communities of interest, contiguity and physical barriers.
“It’s a big job,” Kizer said.“That is why we have retained a consultant who is knowledgeable of the Department of Justice process to pre-clear our new districts so that the resulting election is fair and valid.”
It is not likely that Maricopa will get a district entirely to itself, but it will likely be the biggest voting block in a new district.
Arizona gets 9th congressional district
At the state and federal level, redistricting is required every 10 years and the new districts must meet the same requirements as the county districts.
The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission will handle the drawing of the boundaries for congressional and legislative districts in Arizona.
The commission is charged with making congressional and state legislative districts as competitive, geographically compact and respectful of “communities of interest” as practicable under the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.
For congressional districts, the commission, which consists of two Democrats, two Republicans and one Independent, will need to redraw the lines for eight existing districts and carve out one new district that is being added because of population growth in the state.
According to Doug Johnson, president of National Demographics Corporation, a California-based consulting company that helps cities, counties, states and other government entities restructure their districts, the lines will be difficult to determine.
“There has been so much change in Arizona the past 10 years it would be easier to predict the Final Four, than where these lines will fall,” he said.
However, the man behind Arizona’s last redistricting said he would be shocked if Pinal County didn’t get a piece of a new district or even an entire district to itself.
Pinal County likely to get more representation in Legislature
For the legislative districts, no new divisions are added, but lines must be drawn to reflect population change.
Early indications are that changes to the legislative districts will result in Pinal and Maricopa Counties gaining a seat, according Johnson.
The federal and state redistricting is scheduled for completion by the end of the year. The county redistricting will be done shortly afterward.
“Anytime you can get more representation for a community that is a good thing,” said Maricopa Mayor Anthony Smith.