By JIM BUTLER
With little fanfare the Rapides Parish Police Jury reapportioned itself this month, adjusting for population shifts between the 2010 and 2020 Census. Adjustments in the nine election districts will take effect at the end of the jury’s current term.
In other words, changes in boundaries and precincts included within districts will be reflected at the polls in October’s primary election.
State law requires parish governing authorities to determine whether there exists substantial variation in the representation of their election districts within six months after the official release of every decennial census.
Acting as a committee of the whole, the jury determined its existing apportionment is not equitable and it was obligated under law to adjust apportionment.
The plan retains nine single-member districts, which has been the norm since the mid-1970s, when one-man, one-vote federal court rulings swept aside the parish’s 11-ward, 18-member weighted-vote configuration that, by in essence diluted voting strength.
Under that system the 11 wards had jury representation on the basis of ward population. The jury had never had a Black member.
Ward 1, Alexandria, for instance, had six jurors, all elected ward-wide; Ward 11, Deville, for instance, had one juror.
The nine single-member district configuration resulted in election of minority members for the first time.
Questions regarding the redrawn districts and precincts within them can be answered at the Registrar of Voters Office.