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San Jacinto News-Times - Local News

Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company


Guidelines set for redrawing precinct lines
San Jacinto News- Times

COLDSPRING – Resolutions were passed last week adopting criteria for use in redistricting and for submitting specifi c redistricting proposals and providing public comments by county residents concerning redistricting. Reviewing the 2010 Census, San Jacinto County has a population imbalance requiring redistricting of the county’s commissioner precincts. According to the Census, the county has a population of more than 26,000. “The ideal size for each of the county’s four commissioners’ precincts would be 6,600,” said Syd Falk of Bickerstaff, Heath, Delgado and Acosta, LLP, the Austin law fi rm hired to assist the county in redistricting. Using that fi gure, currently Pct. 1 is under populated by about 12 percent; Pct. 2 by about 10 percent and Pct. 4 by about 4 percent.. Precinct 3 is currently 26.21 percent over population. San Jacinto County Commissioners’ Court, in its adoption of a redistricting plan for commissioner precincts, voted to adhere to the following criteria to the greatest extent possible when drawing precinct boundaries: • Where possible, easily identifi able geographic boundaries should be followed. • Communities of interest should be maintained in a single commissioner and justice precinct, where possible and attempts should be made to avoid splitting neighborhoods. • To the extent possible, commissioner and justice precincts should be composed of whole voting precincts. Where this is not possible or practicable, commissioner and justice precincts should be drawn in a way that permits the creation of practical voting precincts and that ensures that adequate facilities for polling places exist in each voting precinct. • Although it is recognized that existing commissioner and justice precincts will have to be altered to refl ect new population distribution, any districting plan should, the extent possible, be based on existing precincts. • Commissioner precincts must be confi gured so that they are relatively equal in total population according t the 2010 federal Census. In no event should the total deviation between the largest and the smallest precinct exceed 10 percent. • The precincts should be compact and composed of contiguous territory. Compactness may contain a functional, as well as a geographical dimension. • Consideration may be given to the preservation of incumbent- constituency relations by recognition of the residence of incumbents and their history in representing certain areas. • The plan should be narrowly tailored to avoid retrogression in the position of racial minorities and language minorities as defi ned in the Voting Rights Act with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise. • The plan should not fragment a geographically compact minority community or pack minority voters in the presence of polarized voting so as to create liability under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 USC, paragraph 1973. Citizens are eligible to submit redistricting plans of their own to be considered. All plans submitted by citizens, as well as plans submitted by staff, consultants and members of the commissioners’ court should conform to these criteria, according to Falk. In order to make sure that any comment or plan that might be submitted is of maximum assistance to the court in its decision-making process, the following guidelines should be considered, Falk said: • Proposed plans must be submitted in writing and be legible. • Any plan must show the total population and vottendance ing age population for African- Americans, Hispanic, Asians and Anglo/other for each proposed precinct based on the 2010 Census data. • Plans should redistrict the entire county. • Plans must conform to the criteria the court will be using in drawing the precincts. • Comments must be submitted in writing and be legible, even if the person also makes the comments orally at a public hearing. • Persons providing comments and those submitting proposed plans must identify themselves by full name and home address and provide a phone number and, if available, an email address. • All comments and proposed plans must be submitted to the commissioners’ court by the close of the public hearing. Falk told commissioners the redistricting process should be completed by Oct. 1 in order for precincts to be redrawn and approved by the Department of Justice before the 2012 elections. “The timeline is tight but your redistricting issues should be relatively straight forward,” Falk said. He told the court he would have three preliminary drawings to present to them next week for their consideration, after which another meeting would need to be set up for a final plan to be drawn with commissioners input and approval and with a public hearing to follow.


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