Plans ToRedistrict

Published 4:42 pm Thursday, November 18, 2010

BUCKINGHAM – Facing a local election in November 201l, supervisors agreed at their November 9 meeting to begin preparation for the state’s mandatory ten-year redistricting process.

The move was spurred by County Administrator Rebecca Carter who advised supervisors that information from the 2010 Census is scheduled for release by the end of December.

According to the Code of Virginia, Section 24-2-304.1, “In 1971 and every ten years thereafter, the governing body of each such locality shall reapportion the representation among the districts or wards, including, if the governing body deems it appropriate, increasing or diminishing the number of such districts or wards, in order to give, as nearly as is practicable, rep-resentation on the basis of population.”

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Continuing, the section adds, “For the purposes of reapportioning representation in 2001 and every ten years thereafter, the governing body of a county, city, or town shall use the most recent decennial population figures for such county, city, or town from the United States Bureau of the Census.”

Recommending a proactive approach prior to the receipt of the census information, Carter provided the board with a list of potential redistricting committee members.

Included in the list are members of the board of supervisors, chair or president of the Democratic Party, Republican Party, NAACP, and the Buckingham Voters’ League; and, chair of the school board. Carter added that the list is the same as the redistricting committee in 2000.

With a motion by Supervisor John Kitchen, the board approved the make-up of the committee as proposed.

Carter said the county staff would also need to attend the meetings and be involved in the preparation of the docu-ments, mapping, and other related tasks. She pointed-out that the last redistricting process was completed in-house with county staff.

“I believe now that we have a technology manager on staff we are even better equipped to do it in-house,” explained Carter, adding that the process would take $25,000 to $30,000 if it were outsourced.

“So with this, we are asking that you consider a committee to be working on preparing the maps, scheduling the meet-ings, preparing all documents, including the redistricting ordinance that will have to be brought to you and to the redis-tricting committee,” offered Carter. She added that the process would also include compliance and legal matters as well as voter registration issues.

In turn, Carter recommended the preparation and compliance committee include the county administrator and assis-tant county administrator, planning and zoning administrator, technology manager, E-911 coordinator, voter registrar, county attorney, and the administrative assistant to the county administrator.

She added, “All work done by this committee will be submitted to the full redistricting committee.”

Concurring, with the county administrator’s recommendation, the board approved the preparation and compliance committee as presented.

Carter advised supervisors that they also needed to establish redistricting guidelines. She proposed a list of guidelines used in the redistricting process in 2000. The list, explained Carter, is similar to guidelines used at the state and federal levels.

According to Carter, the guidelines include creating districts with populations that fall within five percent of the ideal district.

Boundaries would be geographically contiguous where possible and politically fair, in that they do not dilute the voting strength of one party to the benefit of another.

If possible, current boundaries should not be split. County precincts can be established with no more than five thou-sand registered voters and no fewer than one hundred registered voters.

Continuing, Carter said the guidelines recommend that racial minorities should not be diluted or concentrated into one district.

“If possible, incumbents should not be drawn out of their district,” stated Carter. “Communities of Interest should be recognized, that is, groups of voters with common interests.”

The last guideline, advised Carter, calls for compliance with all legal guidelines.

After hearing the guidelines, supervisors approved them as presented for inclusion in the redistricting process.

Lastly, Carter advised supervisors that they needed to appropriate funds for the redistricting.

She said expenses would include mapping, software programs, advertising and legal fees. Carter estimated the process would cost approximately $20,000.

The county administrator proposed appropriating $10,000 from the present budget’s ending-year balance. “And if more is needed, we will include that in the next budget process,” stated Carter.

Subsequently, the board approved appropriating the $10,000. By doing so, supervisors set the redistricting process in motion with hopes of ensuring Buckingham will be ready for the election of November 2011. That election will include all seats on the board of supervisors and school board.