Election Commission reveals new JP district/township boundaries

Greene County Election Commission Chair Don Farmer shows the move of Marmaduke from District 8 into District 10.

The Greene County Election Commission has revealed new boundaries for justice-of-the-peace districts and constable townships.

And as expected, some districts grew in area while others shrank, to stay within the intended population variation to establish roughly equal numbers of people in each of the 11 districts.

“We shot for 3 percent difference among the districts,” said election commission chair Don Farmer at Thursday’s public meeting at the Paragould Community Center scheduled to seek input. “And the greatest variation was 2.87 percent.”

In response to a question from District 8 Justice of the Peace Dean Wooldridge, Farmer said the range was from 4,042 people to 4,262. “The target [i.e. average] population was 4,143,” he said.

The commission achieved its previously expressed aim of avoiding a split of the city of Marmaduke between two JP districts. But the disposition of the city resulted in one of the biggest changes to the district map. “All of Marmaduke is now in District 10,” Farmer said, “instead of District 8.”

District 10 is represented by Jeremy Wooldridge, while District 8 is represented by Dean Wooldridge.

The other major change also affected Districts 10 and 11. A large chunk of land that comprised the southwest corner of District 10 in now in District 11, to offset the major population gain resulting in inclusion of the entirety of Marmaduke into District 10.

Other changes include shifting the northeast boundary of District 7 (represented by Allen Davis) eastward to the St. Francis River and northward to Highway 412. It also picked up a small portion of Districts 3 (represented by Bill McCarty) and 4 (represented by Jonathon Davis). To compensate District 8 for losing that portion of its population and Marmaduke, its northernmost boundary shifted north across Highway 49 to the Clay County Line. District 8 also acquired a small portion of Districts 1 (represented by Dustin Rumsey), 7 and 9 (represented by Marc Reeves).

District 9’s north boundary shifted northward across Highway 34 into District 10, as well as west into the same district and south into District 4. District 4, to make up for losing that area as well as small areas to Districts 7 and 3, picked up a small area of District 7 west of what it had lost. District 5 (represented by Michelle Boling) lost a small portion of land to District 3 that had protruded into that district.

District 2 (represented by Robby Glasco) was not affected.

“The main intent is it clean up the lines,” said Farmer. “It is to ease elections and smooth the lines out.”

The easing of elections, Farmer said, means limiting to the degree possible the requirement for a profusion of ballot styles, as would be the case were (for example) Marmaduke to be split.

And, as Farmer had previously said, the more ballot styles, the greater the expense to the county. He added that a map showing the actual boundaries (streets, roads, watercourses, etc.) would be available to the public after all the legal descriptions of the district boundaries had been compiled. “That probably won’t be available until next year,” he said.

Farmer took care to point out that redistricting has nothing to do with voter registration. “Every 10 years after the census we have to redistrict,” he said. The filing period for candidates to run for office, he said, is Feb. 22. “So we had a lot to do and a short time to do it,” he said. “This is the best we could do.”

The township boundaries correspond to the justice of the peace boundaries as specified in the County Court Order of Sept. 13, 2019. That is: Districts 1-6 constitute Bula (Beulah) township while District 7 is Rush Island township. The remaining townships are:

Bagwell Lake (District 8)

Campground (District 9)

Dalton (District 10) and

Crowley’s Ridge (District 11)

The election commission was to adopt the redistricting on Friday, and is to submit it to the Secretary of State’s office after 30 days of public comment.

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