Editor’s note: As 2011 draws to a close, Seark Today has selected the top 10 regional stories of the year. The criteria used to select these stories were impact, widespread interest, and/or prominence of those involved.

10. Census and Redistricting

The 2010 U.S. Census Bureau figures, released in early 2011, showed that the decades-long population shift from Arkansas’ Delta to the more prosperous northwest corner of the state continued over the last 10 years. The shift resulted in population decreases for Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Desha, Drew and Lincoln counties.

Chicot County saw the greatest population decrease while Drew County saw the slightest decrease.

Population changes, by county:
Chicot County – 16.4 percent decrease.
Desha County – 15.2 percent decrease.
Ashley County – 9.7 percent decrease.
Bradley County – 8.7 percent decrease.
Lincoln County – 2.2 percent decrease.
Drew County – 1.1 percent decrease.

The population shifts resulted in the redrawing of legislative districts.

The state Board of Apportionment — composed of the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state — is responsible for redrawing state legislative district lines every 10 years in accordance with U.S. Census data, with the goal of equalizing population between districts as much as possible. The new district lines will be in effect for the 2012 elections.

Ideally, each House district should contain 29,159 people and each Senate district should contain 83,312 people. Variance should not be more than 10 percent between districts.

Maps of the newly redrawn Southeast Arkansas state House Districts:

District 8

District 9

District 10

District 11

District 12

All of Ashley, Bradley, Chicot and Drew counties, roughly the southern half of Lincoln County and most of Desha County, with the notable exception of Dumas, are in state Senate District 28.