As the State approved its redistricting maps, Williamson County Commissioners Court was able to complete a new redistricting map for Justices of the Peace, Constables, and Commissioners precincts. Following state law, Counties are also required to review the new census data every ten years to ensure their populations are also evenly distributed. Precincts are drawn only according to civilian numbers, and do not take into account the number of registered voters in each.
Precinct 3 Valerie Covey explained the changes in precinct assignments, “In the past decade, Williamson County’s growth (44%) has been predominately focused on the west side of the county. Precincts 2 and 3 were over the population target while Precincts 1 and 4 needed more residents to make them as even as possible.”
Williamson County Republican Party Chair Steve Armbruster explained, “This process is always a very challenging time for the politicians. Normally, the census numbers are provided in the Spring and Commissioners have months to adjust to changes in population. This year, prior to the State vote, they had many data points but had to wait to see where the new State lines would be. With a lot of hard work, they were able to complete the work in just two weeks, and allowed a full week of public comment. At the end of the day, they met the deadline and the maps were done well.”
County Judge Bill Gravell commented that public feedback was largely positive as well. “The public was encouraged to comment on the proposed map at Wilco.org; 102 people supported it, 24 opposed it, and 13 had questions. I am pleased to say, no elected officials were kidnapped or drawn out of their current precinct. I believe this process was incredibly fair, given the time constraints to complete the work.”
Precinct lines at the county level may appear to be irregularly shaped. However, with an overlay of the four statewide maps, they are in close alignment with House, Senate, and Federal boundaries. All maps combine to ensure citizen counts are evenly distributed and in alignment with census blocks.
Changes in Williamson County start with the U.S. Congress. While, previously, the county was wholly within Congressional District 31, it is now divided—in different measures—among four members of Congress. This means Williamson County will have four voices on the Hill rather than three. As well, having 100 percent of House District 20 will allow House Representative Wilson to prioritize Williamson County concerns at the State level.
Steve adds, “Our current representatives are doing a great job at the Capitol, but if our residents can get two Senators and four Congressmen all working on the same issues for Central Texas, it will be easier for them to get concerns addressed and problems solved.”
At the state level, there are two Senators and two State Board of Education representatives rather than one, again, doubling the county’s voice in their respective houses. Combined, these represent significant increase in legislative impact.
Another important consideration, with so many new businesses expanding in or coming to Williamson County, is irregular voter precinct lines that must wrap around or between large commercial sites; e.g., Dell Diamond or 1890 Ranch Cedar Park, that occupy a great deal of acreage, but contain no voters. As well, Precinct 1, which includes parts of Round Rock and Austin, has more people in the new map than other precincts because it is largely built-out; i.e., without vacant land, clearly visible in other precincts, and not much room for future growth.
Having drawn precinct maps to line up with State lines, Commissioners are preparing to complete voter precinct maps and, again, prevent vagaries between the newly-approved boundaries. Williamson County will be adding approximately 40 new voter precincts and, to meet deadlines associated with the March 1, 2022, primary election, commissioners will approve changes to election precincts by end of year. Ballots for 2022 will be created based on voter residence as of January 1, 2022.
While the process and changes may seem overwhelming, residents need not be concerned about researching new information. All registered voters will receive notification in the mail from the Williamson County Elections Department regarding changes in their voting districts and precincts. Steve says, “Everyone will receive a new voter registration card in the mail. I encourage everyone to pay close attention for new information; which are your representatives in Congress, Commissioners, etc., and drilling down to your Voter Precinct Representative.”
Nothing has changed with regard to where people vote. All voters still have the opportunity to vote at any polling place in the county.Steve Armbruster
Welcome to Georgetown!
House District 20 Representative Terry Wilson has moved his residence from Burnet to Georgetown to enable him to serve the majority of his constituency in Williamson County. He said, “It is important to me because these citizens elected me six years ago as an outsider, and three times since. It is my duty to stay with the people who brought me here and have continued to vote for me.”
He also believes that Williamson County is the center of growth in Texas. “It is a growing area and shares my vision for the future of Texas, including CTE training, workforce development, and provides a real pathway for people to grow from 7th grade and graduate high school with a great job. It is something Williamson County is heavily invested in and I believe in it—this the home for the American dream.”
In addition to his personal and legislative goals, the Representative was asked to stay by many constituents and community leaders. Now in his fourth term, he has seniority in the House and, with 20 members retiring or running for other offices, he will be in the top half for House seniority. He has been chair of many committees and has a record of getting things done for Williamson County. He said, “I am confident that adjacent counties will be well represented and this is a great way to build and provide for regional delegation strength at the capital.”