With some updated 2020 Census data showing Prince George’s County’s population increasing by 12 percent in a decade, a proposed redistricting map shows an equitable populace.
To ensure that parity, a consultant for the county’s three-member Redistricting Commission presented three proposals for the nine council districts that include:
- Realign the 6,040 residents in city of District Heights from District 6 to District 7.
- Shift 4,075 people from Adelphi area from District 1 to District 2.
- Move 2,205 from Glenn Dale from District 3 to District 4, which would combine all of Glenn Dale.
“It’s sort of remarkable that we can achieve population equality without little change,” said Nathan Perisly, a consultant with the commission and a law professor at Stanford University in California.
Based on Perisly’s analysis, the three-member commission voted to support the recommendations Monday, Aug. 16.
Among their goals: An over-under population percentage that doesn’t exceed 4.5 percent.
The current population of District 7 with nearly 94,000 accounts for the smallest in the county, but underpopulated by 9.4 percent. The district near the D.C. border includes Hillcrest Heights, Seat Pleasant and Temple Hill.
Realigning District Heights proposes to boost the district’s population to 103,471 to decrease the population deviation by 3.8 percent, according to commission data.
The county’s District 6 could decrease from 115,779 to 109,739, but still remain the highest population that houses the municipalities and communities such as Largo and portions of Upper Marlboro and Bowie.
Population shifts in the area residents call “South County” in Districts 8 and 9 wouldn’t change.
Charlene Dukes, one of the commission members, said one aspect must be taken into account when the redistricting process happens every 10 years.
“It’s also about people,” she said. “There is some change, even if it’s minuscule.”
The commission will meet again Monday, Aug. 23 and has until Sept. 1 to submit a plan to County Council.
County and Baltimore City officials throughout the state of Maryland are working on redistricting proposals.
In neighboring Montgomery County, officials are proposing to add two more districts to increase County Council from nine to 11 members – seven to represent districts and four at-large.
Prince George’s County’s population increased the fourth highest in the state by 12 percent from 863,420 to 967,201 between 2010 to 2020.
The state’s other majority Black jurisdiction of Baltimore City experienced a population decrease of nearly 6 percent or slightly more than 35,000 residents.
Census demographic data released last week shows less than half of Maryland’s residents are white, but the percentage of its Black population remain unchanged from a decade ago.
The once-a-decade count by the U.S. Census Bureau showed the state population increased last year by 7 percent from the previous census count to 6.1 million, up from 5.7 million in 2010.
The population of white residents decreased from 55 percent more than a decade ago to 47 percent.
During that same timeframe, the Asian population increased from 5 percent to 7 percent and Latino residents from 8 percent to 12 percent.
The Black population in Maryland remained unchanged at 29 percent, which ranks fifth in the nation behind Georgia (31 percent), Louisiana (31.4 percent), Mississippi (36.6 percent) and the District of Columbia (41.4 percent).
Maryland also ranked fourth in being the most diverse state in the nation, which has Del. Jheanelle Wilkins (D-Montgomery County) beyond excited. Wilkins served on a statewide committee that oversaw census efforts last year.
“We were trending in this direction and it’s amazing through the work of every single jurisdiction and leaders all across the state to get out the count,” she said. “That’s something we should be very proud of and as a legislator, for us to ensure that we’re implementing strategies that really reflect that and uplift our diverse populations.”
Although the data shows a diverse view of the country, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said in a statement the process done historically has made attempts to split communities of color and pack them into a single voting district.
One example, he said, stems from those in jail and prison where some state officials count where an individual remains incarcerated versus a person’s last known address.
“The news that the nation’s white population is shrinking while the Black and Brown populations continue to grow is likely to provoke the anti-democratic, racially-anxious contingent among state legislatures charged with drawing the new district lines,” Morial said. “The National Urban League has long embraced the vision of a multicultural, pluralistic democracy and we call on every state legislator to approach redistricting with that same vision.”