Redistricting Plan Delay

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, July 26, 2011

CUMBERLAND – On the 59th day of the review process, Cumberland's County Attorney received response from the United States Department of Justice concerning the County's redistricting plan that was submitted this spring.

The Department of Justice had a 60-day review period from submission to request additional information or grant pre-clearance, according to Howard Estes, county attorney.

The Department of Justice is now asking for additional information concerning the plan that was submitted, said the County Attorney to the Board of Supervisors during this month's meeting.

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On July 7, Estes received a fax from the Department of Justice noting the department had “some questions.”

“We've had other folks look at the plan just as a gut-check,” said Estes. “The State Board of Elections reviewed it and they've deemed it to be complete. Most of the questions seem to be repetitive of information that we've already provided to the Department in the original submission. Of note, this was the 59th day of the 60-day period when we received this correspondence.”

According to Estes, his intention is to respond to the questions posed to see if Cumberland can receive pre-clearance on the proposed plan.

“…It raises concerns,” said Supervisor Bill Osl, District One, about the questions that were raised by the Department of Justice.

Afterwards, Supervisor Tim Kennell, District Two, noted, “It's appalling that the questions have even come back from the government. The committee that put this redistricting together…spent hours working on this project with the CRC and with the chairman of that committee and with the County Attorney…”

Later, Chairman Van Petty, District Three, said, “I can understand your frustrations but if we didn't have to get their approval we wouldn't have sent it up there…We've got to jump through their hoops. I don't know any other way around it. I guess we've got to jump through some more of their hoops it appears.”

Earlier this spring, the Board of Supervisors held its own public hearing and also adopted a resolution amending its County ordinance to adjust the boundary lines between Districts One and Two as part of the redistricting plan process.

The Supervisors agreed at that time that this was the best redistricting plan out of the three options presented.

As a result of the redistricting, District One's total population would be 2,016; District Two's total population would stand at 2,047; and District Three's population would total 2,003; District Four's population is 2,004; and District Five's population is now 1,982, according to the proposed plan that was sent for review.