Clinton to mull redistricting – Sampson Independent

CLINTON — Voters in the City of Clinton have the potential to see a shift in their precincts depending on what the most recent data suggests from the last census.

The City Council left its recent meeting setting a date next month for a work session to discuss the possible changes and look more thoroughly at the maps.

Deborah Stagner with Tharrington Smith LLP and Blake Esselstyn with Mapfigure Consulting made a presentation launching off the first of many meetings that will have to happen to address the redistricting process.

“The board has engaged our law firm, as well as the demographer with Mapfigure Consulting to assist and advise the city council in reapportioning it’s electoral districts,” said Stagner.

They are part of a group called the Local Redistricting Service, she said. The goal is to do the redistricting in an “open, public and nonpartisan manner.”

She has worked with the City a couple of times before, she said.

This is a matter of adjusting the lines of voting districts due to population shifts.

“That means redrawing the lines if those lines get out of balance,” she said. “Populations get out of balance every year following the census.”

The process will mean kicking the ball back in forth a few times, with the council having input, and the team will create a few options for changes that need to happen. There will be quite a few of different pieces of criteria in the process, with one of the items being the interests of the council when it comes to how the districts themselves are made. One piece of the puzzle will be continuing to break up the downtown area into the voting districts.

“The population must be represented equally,” she said.

That’s required to comply with “one person, one vote”, and ensure all people are represented fairly. The council currently has five council members.

She said that the current deviation is plus or minus 5% — that’s what was in 2010.

Esselstyn said that the most recent data they are using was released on Aug. 12.

“One of the key takeaways was that the change across the state was very uneven in population change,” he said. “More than half of the counties in the state lost population — 51 of the 100 counties.”

“This was even while the state had a net 900,000-person gain.”

The goal is to lean towards boundary shifting and not to a complete overhaul.

The board will meet at 6 p.m. Oct. 12 for a working meeting and the team will bring a few proposals for them to examine.

Esselstyn also explained that there a few changes in the census blocks as well as in the neighborhoods. One example he gave was annexation, which was where the town brought into the city limits areas that are on the outskirts, and made them officially a part of the city. In doing so neighborhoods may be included, skewing the numbers for what they were previously.

There are three districts that are not falling into the 5% category, and those are the ones that will be examined and changed.

Reach Emily M. Williams at 910-590-9488. Follow her on Twitter at @NCNewsWriter. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

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