Legislators address redistricting concerns as special session draws near
RAPID CITY, S.D. — State lawmakers are working on a tight timeline to redraw legislative districts following the 2020 census.
The process of legislative redistricting happens every ten years following the census.
On a typical year, these redistricting committees would have months to assess and compile data, but due to the federal government’s delay in releasing 2020 census numbers, the timeline has been drastically shortened.
“You know, it’s a race against time right now – we really feel rushed – we were given those census numbers so late this year,” says State Senator for District 32 Helene Duhamel, a member of the Senate Redistricting Committee.
Lawmakers are tasked with redrawing districts that represent roughly 25,000 people, plus or minus five percent – a process made difficult by measurable urbanization across the state, with Minnehaha, Lincoln, and Pennington Counties seeing the most growth – likely meaning a new district for Sioux Falls and a rural district being eliminated.
Duhamel says, “You put a little bit here and a little bit squeezes out there – its a numbers game – and it’s a real challenge – and you want to do the best you can and be fair to everyone – no nefarious things going on behind the scenes.”
Duhamel says once they have a framework for Rapid City and Sioux Falls in place, other areas will follow easily.
“The potential map has infinite possibilities,” Duhamel adds.
Lawmakers say they plan to have a draft of the boundaries in place by October, when they will hold a series of state-wide public hearings.
South Dakota law gives the legislature until December 1 to approve new districts.