The chair of the legislative redistricting commission expects the group to meet at the end of next month.
They’re waiting for the US census bureau to release numbers from last year’s count before drawing new legislative maps.
The state constitution requires that legislators use census data to make changes to legislative districts.
State Senator Mary Duvall is the chair of the redistricting commission. She says the census releases its numbers in mid-August.
“Our LRC staff will be working with our software vendor to start loading that data that we get August 16th into the software we will be using,” Duvall says. “They think it will take a week to get all of that inputted. After that, we can start looking at potentially drawing maps.”
South Dakota’s redistricting commission has a lighter load than most states—it doesn’t have to draw congressional districts.
Duvall says the commission will draw up 35 legislative districts. To do that they’ll take the state’s new total population and divide it by 35 to determine the target population for each district. The actual district population can range from five percent above to five percent below that target number. She says the commission will keep an eye on a few things when drawing districts.
“We need to protect minority voting rights,” Duvall says. “Two redistricting cycles ago there were some lawsuits against the state of South Dakota for not protecting minority voting rights. So that’s one area where we’re going to want to be very careful.”
Duvall says the commission will also pay close attention to the districts that encompass Sioux Falls and Rapid City and the communities near them. Population in the greater Sioux Falls area has grown significantly in the last ten years, leaving some to speculate the area could get another legislative district.