2010 census data may show glitch in districts lines
NATCHEZ — District-by-district U.S. Census Bureau data does not reflect current district lines, a redistricting advisor hired by the Adams County Board of Supervisors says.
When adjusting the data to the most updated lines, the county’s district sizes vary less, suggesting redistricting will not be necessary.
Advisor Bill Rigby said at Monday’s board meeting he believes 2010 data publicly released Feb. 2 by the U.S. Census Bureau dispersed Adams County’s population in the county’s five districts using district lines drawn in the early 1990s.
The census data currently available on www.census.gov lists the county’s population and divides it into districts.
Rigby believes the district blocks the census used in each district do not reflect the same blocks the county uses today, he said.
He said it is possible that the Census Bureau did not receive updated district lines from several counties, so it generated the data using old district lines.
Rigby said he first noticed the glitch when comparing the Census Bureau’s map of Claiborne County with his own updated map of Claiborne County.
Since then, he has noticed a similar pattern of census data reflecting old district lines in approximately 10 counties of the 12 he is advising.
“It appears (the census uses) a database of census blocks and what district (each block) is in … and that database didn’t get updated,” Rigby said.
The U.S. Census Bureau did not return phone calls Thursday.
Rigby said in past decades, the census did not release district-by-district data, and that that data was left to separate on the local level.
“This is entirely a new issue,” Rigby said.
Stacy Vidal, a public information officer for the U.S. Census Bureau, said in February each state and county is responsible for its own rules and processes for how they use census data to draw district lines.
“The census provides basic demographic information to help in the process,” Vidal said.
When dispersing the total population himself, Rigby said Adams County has a variance of only 9.73 percent, which is shy of the 10-percent threshold which would require redistricting.
Variance refers to the amount to which an individual district’s population varies in size from the ideal district size. The ideal district size for Adams County is 6,064, according to Rigby’s calculations and based on a total population of 30,321.
Even though the county may not be forced by the U.S. Department of Justice to redistrict based on variance, Rigby recommended the lines be slightly adjusted after local elections.
“(Adams County) will still have to make some changes, probably after the election, because of House and Senate redistricting,” Rigby said.
The purpose of those adjustments is to avoid issuing several ballot variations in a single precinct.
Rigby said when taking into account the voting age, the racial demographics of the districts populations make District 1 through 4 have a clearer majority of black or white residents and District 5 closer to half and half.
Rigby also removed 1,976 people from District 5 to account for the prison population at Adams County Corporations of America. Rigby said the warden of the prison informed him 1,976 was the amount of the number of census forms turned in when the census was taken in 2010.
A public relations representative from CCA told The Natchez Democrat the prison’s population was 2,242 on April 21, 2010, or Census Day, which was the last day data could be submitted to the U.S. Census Bureau. The CCA representative said they could not confirm it was the exact number the census counted.
A 2002 Attorney General opinion instructs counties to exclude prison populations from the census for redistricting purposes.
According to Rigby’s calculations, when considering the most recent district lines and voter age, District 4 has a negative 5.61-percent variance and District 2 has a positive 4.12-percent variance from the ideal district size, making the total variance 9.73 percent.
Rigby distributed to the supervisors a table of the district numbers based on his calculations to the board.
The numbers Rigby calculated are as follows:
4 District 1 has a total population of 6,238 and a voting age population of 5,018. The voting age population is 37 percent black and 61 percent white.
4 District 2 has a total population of 6,314 and a voting age population of 4,859. The voting age population is 27 percent black and 71 percent white.
4 District 3 has a total population of 5,767 and voting age population of 4,130. The voting age population is 70 percent black and 28 percent white.
4 District 4 has a total population of 5,724 and a voting age population of 4,323. The voting age population is 81 percent black and 18 percent white.
4 District 5 have a total population of 5,278 and a voting age population of 4,798. The voting population is 57 percent black and 41 percent white.