League Asks County to Look Into Redistricting
Although results of the 2010 population census will soon focus attention on congressional and legislative redistricting, another redistricting effort may well emerge closer to home.
The League of Women Voters has reminded the Moore County Board of Commissioners that the five residency districts are inequitable when it comes to population.
In a letter to the board, league President Jo Nicholas asked the commissioners for an opportunity to present league findings at a meeting in August or September. That would give the commissioners time to complete work on the county budget before tackling the subject.
The league completed a two-year study on fair representation/redistricting in 2008 but decided not to pursue the issue until the 2010 population statistics were available.
Nicholas noted in her letter that the voting district populations in two districts, in particular, vary by more than 50 percent.
"It is therefore apparent that there is a substantial inequity of population among districts," Nicholas said.
Under the new census figures, the ideal size of each district would be 17,649, representing about one-fifth of the county's new population total of 88,247. The 2000 population of 74,770 would have meant ideal district size of 14,954. In 1990 the U.S. Census Bureau reported a county population of 59,031, making the ideal district size equal to 11,806.
Since 1990, and again in 2000, not only has the county's population grown dramatically, but also the distribution of that population has also been adjusted to some degree.
Nevertheless, there remain striking differences among some districts.
Commissioners Craig Kennedy (District 3) and Commissioner Jimmy Melton (District 5) don't have enough residents, and Board Chairman Nick Picerno (District 2) has way too many people. Commissioner Larry Caddell's District 1 has about 1.18 percent more than the ideal size.
The district closest to ideal in size is No. 4, the seat held by Commissioner Tim Lea. The size is 0.01 percent too small.
The league's latest examination of the district structure, using 2010 census figures, shows this distribution: District 1 - population 17,858, or 1.18 percent above the ideal; District 2 - population 24,283, or 37.58 percent higher than ideal; District 3 - population 11,978, or 32 percent too low; District 4 - population 17,621, or 0.01 percent too low; and District 5 -- population 16,507, or 6.48 percent too low.
Moore County's residency system applies to candidates, not to voters. Candidates for county commissioner must reside within the district, but they are voted on countywide. This way, the commissioners are subject to the entire electorate, not just to the voters within their districts.
A similar system applies to the nonpartisan Board of Education, although only five of the eight board members are elected from districts. The other three members are elected at-large.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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