Redistricting Task Force presents final recommendations
Published on March 03, 2021
A City Council-appointed, 11-member Redistricting Task Force presented its proposed redistricting criteria as part of its final report this week.
In 2016, Fort Worth voters approved an amendment to the City Charter to increase the number of City Council members from nine to 11 following the completion of the 2020 Census. The Task Force on Race and Culture in December 2018 recommended the goal of ensuring that the City Council reflects the diverse communities that it represents.
On Tuesday, Redistricting Task Force Chair Lorraine Miller and other members presented 10 criteria for redistricting.
High-priority criteria (not in any particular order):
- Districts should be approximately equal size. The population of the largest district should be no more than 10% greater than the population of the smallest district.
- Redistricting should be completed in compliance with the U.S. Constitution, Voting Rights Act, Texas Constitution and other applicable laws, with no packing of minority voters, no fragmentation of minority communities and no retrogression in the ability of minorities to participate in the electoral process.
- The process should create minority opportunity districts, in compliance with federal law, to further reflect the growing diversity of Fort Worth.
- The new district alignment should contain communities of interest in single districts. Community of interest is defined as “a local population with shared socio-economic characteristics and political institutions that would benefit from unified representation.”
- Districts should be contiguous territory.
Lower-priority criteria, in no particular order of priority:
6. Compact districts, with the goal of attaining a Polsby-Popper ratio of >0.050. Learn more about the Polsby-Popper ratio.
7. Identifiable geographic boundaries.
8. Contain whole voting precincts.
9. Contain whole census blocks or block groups.
10. New districts should not take into consideration the places of residence of incumbents or potential candidates.
The task force also suggested that software training be provided to residents who are interested in the redistricting process, and that proposed redistricting plans submitted by residents be analyzed and presented to the City Council.
The group is urging for transparency in the redistricting process by requiring all map drawing to occur at public meetings, with computer screens visible to all parties.
Upcoming activities for the Redistricting Task Force:
- March 9, 7 p.m. The City Council will consider authorizing a contract with outside counsel to review and comment on the proposed criteria.
- April 6, 7 p.m. The Council will vote on a resolution accepting the final report and establishing the criteria and procedures.
- April through September 2021. City staff will provide software training for interested residents, using unofficial population estimates pending the release of official population counts. During this period, residents may register communities of interest for redistricting purposes, and the city will hire an independent contractor to propose an initial map in compliance with the approved criteria.
In addition, the task force has requested a joint work session with the City Council, to be held sometime in the fall after the U.S. Census Bureau releases block-level population data from the 2020 census. The Census Bureau is expected to release these population counts by Sept. 30, 2021.