Harris County begins preliminary redistricting discussions, seeks public input

Harris County begins preliminary redistricting discussions, seeks public input

Harris County’s population grew 15.6% from 2010-20. (Courtesy Visit Houston)

As Harris County’s population has grown 15.6% in the past 10 years, county commissioners convened Aug. 31 to review the process of redistricting and hear feedback from residents. Redistricting is the process of redrawing the boundaries for representation in states and local jurisdictions and is required after every decennial census.

The recently released 2020 U.S. census data revealed not only had Harris County’s population grown to 4.7 million, but that the population distribution among the county’s four commissioner precincts had shifted in the last decade.

When the maps were last redrawn in 2011, each precinct had slightly more than 1 million residents because the county’s overall population was about 4.1 million.

Matt Angle, the county’s mapping consultant, said at the Aug. 31 meeting that based on the 2020 census, each precinct should have 1.18 million residents. The U.S. Constitution prohibits a deviation of more than 10% from that target number. See a breakdown of each precinct’s population compared to the ideal district size below:

Officials said in addition to physical places such as streets, bodies of water, railroad tracks and highways that act as natural boundaries between communities, other aspects such as language, culture and political affiliation of local communities will be considered throughout the redistricting process.

Liz Allen, a representative with the Pure Justice Organization, said she wants to make sure residents’ voices are heard as the decisions made will affect them for the next decade.

“We need to be involved in the process because the redistricting will impact the allocation of resources and services as well as the political agenda and political representation, thereby determining who gets elected to office,” she said.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo emphasized the public will have multiple opportunities to share their thoughts and suggest potential boundary changes at upcoming redistricting meetings.

“The input from the public is particularly important because it helps us identify communities that need to stay together, whether it is communities that worship together, communities that have other things in common—commercial centers, shared schools, shared languages, a shared culture, neighborhood,” Hidalgo said. “The input of everybody who speaks at these meetings will help us determine how we best make sure that the boundaries that are drawn do not divide communities.”

Learn more about Harris County’s redistricting process and submit feedback at http://cao.harriscountytx.gov/commissioner-precinct-redistricting.

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