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Census-driven process to create more precincts in Buckeye

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The city of Buckeye — having doubled in size over the past 10 years — is being carved up into several new precincts.

An online meeting was held Thursday, Sept. 9 to inform Maricopa County Supervisor District 4 residents about proposed redistricting boundaries and to collect feedback. While there wasn’t a great deal of feedback given from the public at the late-afternoon meeting, there was a great deal of explanation given for proposed new boundaries and the conditions that make changes or non-changes sensible.

The presenters talked about residential growth over the past 10 years, likely imminent growth over the next 10 years and some of the important guidelines in drawing lines that separate precincts.

The Sept. 9 presentation was given for residents of District 4, represented by Clint Hickman. Friday, the presenters engaged with residents of District 3, the northern Valley district represented by Bill Gates.

Monday afternoon, the presenters were scheduled to converse with residents of District 5, located in the southwestern part of the county and represented by Steve Gallardo.

The meetings, one for each of the five supervisor districts, were to gather input as the Supervisors prepare to vote on the new precinct boundaries. The Supervisors will vote on precinct boundaries at a special Sept. 27 meeting and will go into effect Jan. 2, 2022.

The final phase of the county’s redistricting process — redrawing the five supervisor district boundaries — doesn’t need to be completed until July 1, 2022. However, the precinct boundaries provide building blocks for that later phase.

Scott Jarrett is the director of election day and emergency voting for the Maricopa County Elections Department. He ran the Sept. 9 meeting and explained much of the basic aim of county staff in looking at precinct boundaries.
Staff used newly received 2020 U.S. Census data for proposed precinct boundaries.

“We’re doing the redrawing where new residences were built within the past 10 years (since the 2010 U.S. Census),” Jarrett said. “So if you notice there is little or no change in areas where there has been no new home construction, or where there isn’t likely to be much of that construction soon, that’s intentional.”

Jarrett said the target number was to get as close to 5,000 voters as possible in each precinct. In some cases, such fast-growing parts of Buckeye or other cities are about to approve or have approved large subdivisions or apartment complexes.

This led the Maricopa County staff to create boundaries around precincts that are substantially smaller than 5,000 voters, to give the precinct room to grow.

At the other end of the spectrum are precincts that now have considerably more than 10,000 voters each. These precincts will be broken up into two, or, if growth is imminent, more than two precincts.

Within the city of Buckeye alone, there will be five new precincts. One of those precincts — known as Twilight — will be right near 5,000 voters. It’s set to have 4,918 voters.

Other precincts, such as the Flower precinct (2,263 voters), have room to grow.
The Tuthill area has about 14,000 voters, so it will be broken up. However, Jarrett said, one priority is to draw precinct boundaries along main streets and roads, and not to split up neighborhoods.

Other parts of the county, such as rugged mountain areas where no new residential construction is likely, will have the same number.

Some unexpected zoning changes in recent years have allowed houses or apartment complexes to be built directly on top of 2011 precinct boundaries. These boundaries will be redrawn slightly to go around a neighborhood, or, at the very least, along a street or road, so as not to split a residence in half.

Reprecincting happens whenever the geographic boundary lines of the precinct are redrawn to align with changes to federal, state and local district lines, to accommodate population growth and to evenly distribute population among precincts. This typically happens every 10 years; the results of the 2020 U.S. Census were recently released.

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is responsible for redrawing congressional and legislative district lines every 10 years after the U.S. Census results are released. However, Arizona counties are responsible for updating voting precincts, justice court precincts and Board of Supervisors district boundaries.

The Independent Redistricting Commission has finished its listening meetings and has moved on to monthly online meetings. The commission was set to meet today at 8 a.m. That meeting can be watched here: youtube.com/watch?v=hSv38dNlX00

The IRC’s Aug. 31 meeting can be watched here: youtube.com/watch?v=6r8fnw_Fqo8

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