Richmond will use recently released 2020 US Census data to redraw the city’s political boundaries and urge residents to help.
Three public workshops have already taken place online and two more are planned for January and February. But anyone who wants to participate can submit maps and suggestions via email.
The census triggers a redistribution of political borders across the country every 10 years. In Richmond, city council representation will likely be reconfigured accordingly. The exercise comes one year after Richmond past general council seats, considered biased, to a district system, where each geographic area is guaranteed representation.
Richmond hired the National Demographics Corp. to facilitate the process.
Residents can personalize a map, describing what they think Richmond’s political districts should look like. NDC will present the submitted maps to the board, which has the final say on the limits.
While the cards must balance the population equally across districts, even those that do not comply with the rules will be scrutinized, NDC said. Demographics The data residents can use to build their maps can be found on the Richmond Redistribution website.
“One of the most effective ways to make your voice heard is to submit a card,” said Shalice Tilton, senior consultant at NDC. “It doesn’t matter how a card was submitted. You can take a cocktail napkin and draw a map.
The digital tools for building plans can be found under the “draw a map” tab on the city clipping site. Paper maps for working are available in the lobby of 450 Civic Center Plaza. Submissions can be made by email to [email protected]
Richmond drew district lines in 2020 in response to a possible trial from a lawyer who argued that the general system diluted the vote for Latino residents. But this map, which NDC was also involved in creating, is obsolete because it was based on data from the 2010 census.
In terms of outreach, City Clerk Pamela Christian says her office has sent out information to local media, broadcast notices on the local KCRT TV station, and emailed 127 organizations in the hope that they will spread awareness of the issue. participation. But many locals said they were unaware of the workshops.
In the September 14 redistribution session, city council member Melvin Willis said the city may have relied too much on online correspondence, excluding people without internet access. , including many older residents.
“I just don’t want these people to fall through the cracks because of the digital divide,” he said.
Even some who are online say the outreach efforts have not been effective.
“I consider myself quite connected to Wi-Fi and interested in what’s going on in the city,” resident Jacqueline Thalberg said at the September meeting. “But I have to say I don’t know any of this, which is a very important subject.”
To broaden the reach, Willis suggested sending postcards, sending text messages, and handing out flyers to school children.
Others fear that language barriers are preventing some voices from being heard. The cutting workshops were organized in English and Spanish, an oversight which, according to Claudia Jimenez, a member of the municipal council, could leave behind large populations.
Even though people were aware of the workshops, the online tools may be too complicated or too time consuming for some to use. The lack of in-person training sessions, which have taken place in the past, makes the process more difficult.
When the last map was drawn, face-to-face meetings were held in various neighborhoods, said Myrtle Braxton, secretary of the West Contra Costa chapter of the League of Women Voters. She urged the city to consider doing so and to offer more training to help people formulate maps.
Parchester Neighborhood Council President Rita Johnson said she did not find the virtual workshops and toolkits useful.
“I tried using this tool and got so confused because I’m not really computer savvy,” Johnson said, adding that the workshops “just show you the end result, not how to get there.”
Richmond Neighborhood Coordinating Council Chair Jan Mignone plans to host her own in-person training session at Hilltop Community Church to give people from different neighborhoods the opportunity to discuss the communities that belong to each neighborhood. .
In addition to the website, people can get information about the mapping process at town hall secretariat.