League Presents Redistricting Maps to County Board
Hypothetical redistricting maps for the five Moore County Board of Commissioner seats were made public at the Tuesday night board meeting.
But they generated no discussion, and the commissioners agreed that redistricting is a subject for a future work session.
The two maps were unveiled at the conclusion of a redistricting presentation by the League of Women Voters.
"We are here to work with you," said Jo Nicholas, president of both the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and the Moore County league.
Carolyn Mealing, who chairs the local league's Fair Representation/Redistrict-ing Committee, made the presentation, which included a review of the history and process of developing such districts.
The league is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to promotion of good government and voter education.
"Voting is one of our most cherished rights and responsibilities," Mealing said. "Redistricting gives meaning to the right to vote by creating plans that afford all voters an equal opportunity to take meaningful part in this process."
The 2010 population census places Moore County's population at 88,247, which, ideally, should mean that each district should have about 17,649 residents. But population shifts in the past 10 years have left two districts more than 30 percent off center.
District 2, represented by Board Chairman Nick Picerno, has a population of 24,283, or 37.58 percent more than the ideal size. District 3, represented by Commissioner Craig Kennedy, has only 11,978, or 32 percent fewer people.
Closest to the mark are Districts 4, served by Commissioner Tim Lea, with only 0.01 percent more than ideal, and 1, served by Commissioner Larry Caddell, with 1.18 percent more. Commissioner Jimmy Melton's District 5 has a population of 16,507, which is 6.48 percent below ideal.
The first draft map prepared by GIS Director Chris Koltyk and his staff followed these criteria: equalize population, no splitting of voter precincts and all precincts contiguous.
That map would extend District 1 to include the DHR precinct, with the remaining boundaries largely unchanged except that the Vass precinct would be moved into District 4.
District 4 would keep Eureka, Knollwood and North Southern Pines, would pick up Pinedene but lose South Southern Pines to District 5, which would otherwise remain about the same.
District 2 would encompass Eastwood and all four Pinehurst precincts. District 3 would extend from West End and Seven Lakes to Bensalem, Westmoore and Robbins.
A second map was prepared at the request of Lea as an additional option. It largely retains the existing district boundaries but does split a precinct between districts 1 and 3.
Elections Director Glenda Clendenin advised the board that in some cases, the comparison reference is that of apples to oranges because the units in use are voter tabulation districts, not precincts. The difference matters little to voters but is significant from the standpoint of election officials.
"Not to be splitting hairs, but there is a distinction," Clendenin said.
The size of each district makes little difference to the average voter, because Moore County uses a residency type of district. That means that the candidate must reside within a particular district, but all registrants, regardless of their residence, may vote on candidates in all districts.
This differs from the at large system in which candidates may reside anywhere and voters from all districts vote for all candidates, and from the representative (ward) system in which candidates reside within a district and only registrants within that district are allowed to vote for them.
Under a legislative requirement, representative districts must be redefined after every census, but there is no similar requirement for residency districts.
"Therefore, redistricting for residency districts is currently left to political whim," Mealing said.
Both the state Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court have ruled that representative voting districts ideally should not deviate in size by more than 5 percent.
The county's five residency districts were established in 1965 through local legislation. Those districts were further defined by legislation passed in 1995.
In her presentation, Mealing noted that the late state Sen. Teena Little "was the driving force for the legislation" in 1995.
The league noted that the present district boundaries contain widely differing population totals and recommended that the commissioners establish a process to ensure an equitable population distribution within the five districts and follow the process on a consistent basis.
No action was taken on the league's findings, but the board thanked Mealing and the league for their efforts.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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