The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors heard from Butler Snow Rep. B. Parker Berry in a public hearing Wednesday regarding the results of the board’s long-range planning on reorganizing district maps based on the census .
Berry presented three maps: one with current district lines, one with changes to where district lines meet in the town of Brookhaven, and one showing the court/constable map.
In February, the council adopted preliminary recommendations on the redistribution of electoral districts. They later announced that the public hearing would be the time when citizens could come before the council to voice their concerns.
No member of the public attended Wednesday’s public hearing.
Jerry Wilson of District 1 said he “had been so busy” that he didn’t know the hearing was set for that day and that he “would have liked to invite people to speak “. Wilson was reminded that there had already been four working sessions to schedule discussions, public hearings and population breakdowns.
Anyway, Berry explained that on the maps he presented, the existing district lines were marked with dark black lines and the proposed new district lines were simply shaded in the new color to show that they now belonged to a different district. Each district was represented by a color.
Of the three maps displayed, the left one showed the current state of the districts, the middle map showed an enlarged view of the town of Brookhaven – where almost all of the changes would occur – and on the right was the new draft map of the court/constable.
“The criteria was to keep in mind ‘one person, one vote,'” Berry explained, “as well as the 1972 voting rights and other traditional criteria.” These criteria included respect for the domiciles of the holders, respect for natural boundaries where possible, the absence of blocks from one district to another and the continuity of political subdivisions and municipal boundaries, which is not always possible.
The main issues were:
• District 1 (shaded in red) was down a gap of -9.63 and needed more age voters.
• District 2 (shaded in orange) fell by a spread of -3.69.
• District 3 (shaded green) fell by a spread of -2.21.
• District 4 (shaded in blue) increased by a gap of 10.06.
• District 5 (shaded in yellow) increased by a gap of 5.47.
The county is out of 19.70% deviation and must be less than 10% total deviation. The new redistricting would solve this problem by moving population blocks, all within the town of Brookhaven, to equalize the voter population that was counted by the census.
The shaded area of the new map now shows that District 1 would increase to 1% variance, District 2 has a variance of -1.40, District 3 has a variance of -3.93, District 4 has a variance of of 2.11 and district 5 has a variance of 3.20.
The census reported Lincoln County’s population to be 34,907 and there are 26,514 citizens of voting age. By comparing the old map to the new, the distribution of voters will be as follows:
• Division 1 goes from 4,725 electors to 5,233 electors.
• Division 2 goes from 5,098 electors to 5,190 electors.
• Division 3 goes from 5,135 electors to 5,047 electors.
• Division 4 goes from 5,823 electors to 5,406 electors.
• Division 5 goes from 5,733 electors to 5,638 electors.
This new redistricting would move the county from a 19.70 gap to a 7.13 gap, which is exactly where the county should be, Berry said.
As for the Courts/Constable map, District One-North currently has 13,858 voters and Two-South has 12,656, making a gap of 7.59. The proposed new plan would put District One-North at 13,001 voters and Two-South at 13,513, for a gap of 5.54.
When Berry’s discussion was over, Wilson said he was “not satisfied.” Several other supervisors asked Wilson what he was unhappy with, but Wilson did not elaborate, except to say he did not trust the Census Bureau’s tally of the number of people living in Lincoln County. .
Berry paused, apparently unsure how to respond to that comment, but finally said, “Well, this information is from the Census Bureau and these are the numbers we’re stuck with. We can’t do anything about it. We draw these maps by blocks of information from the office.