The Bulletin Board

House redistricting committee to work around a deadline issue regarding city wards

By: - October 1, 2021 4:14 pm
A view of Concord from the Merrimack River

Some cities won’t finish redrawing their wards to reflect the most recent census data until January. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

House districts include city wards, but some cities won’t finish redrawing their wards to reflect the most recent census data until January. That’s a problem for the House because its maps are due in November, two months before city wards will be finalized.

In a Wednesday meeting of the House Special Redistricting Committee, representatives voted unanimously for an arrangement that would allow them to move forward with drawing new maps for the House districts: The assumption that all cities would draw the wards perfectly.

In this case, “perfect” means taking the new total population for a city and dividing it by the current number of wards. Cities have some wiggle room, but they are supposed to get the population of each ward as close to the others as possible.

That doesn’t mean it necessarily works out that way, though. The committee also discussed the possibility that the small city of Franklin may attempt to get rid of its wards altogether.

And Republican Rep. Ross Berry said in Manchester there were wards with as many as 10,000 people, while others had only 9,000 – a “massive deviation.”

“I think that’s what we have to go for, is we have to assume that the cities are going to do their job. I think we have to assume that they’re going to do a perfect job,” he said.

After the Nov. 18 deadline for the House, the maps will make their way through the legislative process, which allows for amendments if discrepancies related to wards or other concerns arise.

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.