What the new El Paso County districts could look like soon

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El Paso County's legislative body is the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) — five elected officials who represent different parts of the county in all sorts of decisions that affect your life. The exact boundaries of their districts change every few years, according to population growth and, to a lesser degree, voter turnout. For more on the politics around an upcoming redistricting (very soon!), see here. But, if you came here to understand how the districts have changed over time and how they could change in the future, you're in the right place.

Bear with us, please — the following blog post won't be sexy but it will be informative!

First, a history lesson. This is what the county districts looked like in 2002. (Sorry the quality sucks. The internet was young then, ok.)
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Then, the districts were redrawn in 2011 to look like this. Apparently the pastel color assigned to each district changed then too.
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In 2015, districts were redrawn again. This is our current map, overlaid with population to show the needed changes (districts one and two have to shrink, districts three, four and five have to grow.)
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Per state law, the districts need to contain roughly equal numbers of constituents. Here, because the county's population is just under 680,000, the magic number per district is about 136,000. Well, it's 136,138, to be exact. The County Clerk and Recorder, Chuck Broerman, and his staff came up with three redistricting options to reach those magic numbers, while maintaining compactness, communities of interest, and logical landmarks. Here's the PowerPoint presentation explaining each option in more detail, shown at the BOCC's May 25 meeting. Find the maps below. And if it's hard to discern what's different between them, know that's on purpose — the clerk's office tried to disrupt current districts as little as possible.

Option 1:
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Option 2:
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Option 3:
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Not everyone is pleased with these options, as you can read more about here. Grievances focus more on process, particularly that the clerk didn't incorporate citizen and nonpartisan input before drawing the maps. Some Democrats aren't pleased with the substance, particularly that the districts may become less competitive and even more secure for Republicans. To that end, El Paso County Democratic Party chair, Electra Johnson, who lost the race for commissioner in district 3 by an unusually narrow margin in November, tried her hand at redrawing the lines herself. She didn't have access to quite the same data as the clerk's office, but found some clever workarounds, like using satellite imagery of housing developments over time. Here's what she came up with.
 
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If you have a preference, critique or suggestion you want the commissioners to consider before amending and adopting one of these maps, send them to mattiealbert@elpasocountyco.com or call them in to 520-6226. Public comment ends June 24 and the meeting where decisions get made is June 29.

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