Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars (was it more than a billion?), the United States Census Bureau has acknowledged making a mistake in New Hampshire.
It credited the town of Hampton with 454 too many residents and the city of Portsmouth with 454 too few. This means that any redistricting plans will have to account for the new numbers. That shouldn’t be a problem with state senate, congressional, executive council, and county commissioner districts since Portsmouth and Hampton are likely to be in the same districts.
It means, however, that we’ll have to take another look at State Rep districts to make sure they comply with the one man, one vote principle.
Of course the morons who post in the blueblogblathererer blogosphere are already promising to sue the state no matter how perfect the redistricting plans are. Yes, they are threatening to sue even before they’ve seen what they might be suing!
However, those of us on the redistricting panel take our responsibilities seriously, and the Census mess-up will in fact be taken into account.
Prior to the 454 injection, Portsmouth was well within acceptable deviation for losing one Rep, going from seven down to six. However, with a new population of 21,233, it now deserves 6.45 Reps, a number too high to round down to six. Thus, it will need to get another half a representative, and a new floatarial district will need to be created.
There’s a particular problem with Portsmouth. As noted here previously, every other city in the state realigns its wards to be approximately equal in population every ten years.
Portsmouth, which elects its city councilors at large rather than by wards, has not felt the need to even out its wards. Ward 3 currently has 2444 people while neighboring Ward 4 has 5961 people!
The new Constitutional amendment requires that every city, town, or ward with enough people (3291) be assigned its own Representative. Thus, four of the Portsmouth wards have enough people for their own Rep. Ward 3 currently does not.
The Constitution does not allow the state to compel a city to realign its wards, so it’s all u to Portsmouth. The House redistricting committee more than a month ago sent a letter explaining this to all city mayors and clerks. We never heard back from Portsmouth. As clerk of the House redistricting committee, I explained this problem to the City Clerk two weeks ago and to Portsmouth Representative Jackie Cali Pitts last week. Today, I received assurances from Portsmouth City Solicitor Sullivan that the city would address the problem (at a meeting of the city’s legislative delegation next Friday, he said, although I believe it’s the City Council which must approve changes in ward boundaries).
Those in the blueblogblatherer blogosphere may be ready to sue before they know what plan will emerge, but let me assure all 1.316 million people in New Hampshire that the plan the House redistricting committee presents will be fair to every city, town, ward, and human being in the state.
Threats of suits are not helpful, but of course any idiot can make any threat he or she so chooses, no matter how ignorant he or she may be.
Why must Portsmouth gain 454 people and Hampton lose that many at such a late date?
Apparently, the census added 454 people aboard a ship in the Portsmouth harbor to Hampton rather than Portsmouth. Further details are beyond my need to know approach to this business, but rest assured. The right numbers will be used.
Let’s hope more errors are not unearthed later on.