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Oneida County Starts Redistricting Process, Waiting on Census Data

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Local counties are starting to re-draw election maps.

Maps are re-drawn at the local, state, and federal level every 10 years.

The Oneida County redistricting committee is hoping to keep the map re-drawing process as simply as possible this time around.

The number of districts won’t be changing. The committee members are hoping the boundaries won’t change that much either.

The lines of districts will have to be re-worked if the population size changes drastically.

By law, each district is required to have the same number of people within a certain margin. But the biggest problem with drawing those lines this time is the committee doesn’t have the population data yet.

The Census Bureau was originally supposed to release the data in March.

Now, it’s set an August 16th goal.

Regardless of when the data is released, by law, counties need to have their new maps set by November 23rd.

The crunched timeline has committee members like Jim Winkler concerned.

“We have to also have some kind of contingency in place for the fact that we may not be running next election cycle with new maps. It’s a possibility,” said Winkler during the committee’s first meeting.

The November 23rd deadline is because of election deadlines.

Candidates running for supervisor positions need to know where the district borders are so they can start collecting signatures and get their names on the ballot.

State lawmakers passed a Republican authored bill to extend the deadline for counties until 2024 to adopt their new boundaries and use current maps until then.

Governor Evers vetoed the bill saying the elections wouldn’t be fair because districts won’t reflect population changes.

How much Oneida County’s population has changed was a topic of discussion during the first meeting.

The Northwoods saw a lot of people move to the area during the last year and a half.

The question is if those number will be reflected in census data.

“For instance, in Newbold, over 50% of ours is seasonal, but we’ve had an increase in the last year who live in the Chicagoland, but they got a place up here. They were able to get everything done over the internet, so they came up here. The problem is going to be where were they when the census was taken,” said Winkler.

Census questions are supposed to reflect where a person was living on April 1st, 2020.

That was when the pandemic was just beginning.

The committee hopes to have a tentative draft of the map in September.

It’s then required to work with cities and town as well as hold two public hearings before finalizing the map.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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