Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Census & Redistricting
1. What is the census?
Article 1, Section 2, of the United States Constitution requires that a census be taken every 10 years for the purpose of apportioning the United States House of Representatives. U.S. CONST. ART. 1, § 2. The first census was taken in 1790, and since that time the census of population has been taken each year ending in zero. Census Day is April 1, 2020, and the census is designed to determine the population of the United States as of that date. The census is administered by the Census Bureau. (https://data.census.gov/cedsci/profile?g=0500000US48319)
A tabulation of the total population of the States must be completed and delivered to the President of the United States by December 31, 2020. Texas law allows use of census data for redistricting purposes after delivery of the data by the Census Bureau to the Governor. TEXAS GOVERNMENT CODE ANNOTATED § 2058.002(b).
2. What is redistricting?
The release of the 2020 census data triggers redistricting obligations for Mason ISD to fulfill. In general, redistricting is the process by which the boundaries of elective districts are periodically redrawn to maintain equal representation on the basis of population.
Once the census has been published, population shifts may result in an unequal representation amongst the single-member districts of local political subdivisions such as cities and school districts. If the population of the most populous trustee district exceeds the population of the least populous district by more than 10% Mason ISD will need to redistrict. The district boundaries would need to be adjusted in order to maintain a substantially equal population between single-member districts within Mason ISD.
3. What are the Legal Requirements for redistricting?
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 ("VRA").
- Texas and each political subdivision within the state have been "covered jurisdictions" under Section 5 of the VRA since 1972.
- As Covered Jurisdictions, any changes in election practices by the state or any of these political subdivisions must be precleared by the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. before such practices can be used.
- Changes in election practices include changes in single-member district lines, as well as many other changes.
One Person, One Vote.
- In the 1964 case of Reynolds v. Sims, the United States Supreme Court determined that the general basis of apportionment should be "one person, one vote." Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964). This rule means that, generally, the trustee electoral districts must be equal in population according to the most recent census so that each person's vote is equally weighted.
- For political subdivisions other than the United States Congress, districts are considered to be in balance and thus meet the one person – one vote requirement if the districts have substantially equal (within 10%) total population.
- This means that a political subdivision's electoral districts would be considered to be in balance under this constitutional requirement if the population of the most populous electoral district in the political subdivision did not have more than 10% more persons than the least populous electoral district.
Texas Education Code.
- Section 11.052 of the Texas Education Code also sets forth requirements when Mason ISD redistricts, to include the requirement to hold a public hearing and publish notice of the hearing in a newspaper that has general circulation in the district.
4. What is the process?
Data from the Census Bureau is received and processed so it can be used for redistricting. Specialized redistricting GIS software applications are required to process the data to develop plan maps. Demographic thematic maps, electoral history data, voter registration information, and other specialized data are utilized to create plans.
Mason ISD will develop an illustrative plan and publish it for public comment. Comments may be received by means of written or oral comment at a public hearing.
After the Board of Trustees holds a public hearing on the issues and public comments are received, they will adopt a map that details the new boundaries of each district.
- The general election cycle for the District requires elections on the uniform election date in May.
- The Texas Election Code provides that an election change must be in effect for at least 90 days before it can be used in an election. As a result, entities with single-member districts that must redistrict in 2021 cannot do so in time to use new districts in the May 2022 election cycle. The general election would be called (and the filing deadline for candidates would occur) at about the time that the census data is expected to be released.
- The first election at which any new districts will be effective is May 2022. The redistricting process will be organized so that new electoral districts are precleared prior to the call of the general election (which typically coincides with the filing date for candidates).
6. How does redistricting affect attendance zones?
Redistricting only affects the individual Trustee district boundaries. Redistricting does not change the current attendance zones.
7. How do I get involved?
The Board of Trustees would like to hear your input on the district boundaries. You may e-mail your representative or appear at the public hearing and give your comments in accordance with the guidelines adopted by the District. The hearing is scheduled for Monday, December 13, 2021 at 5:30pm. At the MISD Administration building located at 200 Fort Mckavitt Mason, TX 76856.