The Chief of the Voting Section of the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, has informed the that the County Commission Redistricting Map submitted on March 22, has now been pre-cleared without any changes. This status means that the map meets all requirements of the Voting Rights Act.
This is the map that was approved by the Board of Commissioners by a majority vote last autumn; approved by the Georgia General Assembly during its 2012 session; and signed by Governor Nathan Deal. This is the required procedure for use of this map and these districts for County elections until the 2020 Census.
The new map will be in effect for the July 31 primaries.
Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan stated that “We are pleased that the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, has pre-cleared our submitted map without any changes. We worked hard–and across political party lines–to draw district lines that were logical, and kept neighbors and neighborhoods together.”
The redrawing of the Commission District map is required after the results of every decennial Census are revealed. Counties throughout the Nation are required to adjust district boundaries to reflect population changes.
The 2012 Census population for Douglas County was 132,400. The perfect division of the population into the four Commission districts would be 33,100. However, strictly and blindly dividing the County into four districts could divide neighborhoods, split precincts, and become confusing. The goals of the Board of Commissioners in developing the new map were:
- eliminate split precincts, i.e., precincts serving two or more Commission districts;
- maintain current precinct boundaries;
- set district populations within about three percent of each other;
- keep the current Commissioners in their current districts;
- keep neighborhoods and subdivisions together in the same Commission district; and
- keep development corridors, such as Chapel Hill Rd., Thornton Rd., Riverside Parkway, etc., in the same Commission district.
Prior to the new map, the Tributary planned unit development was in two Commission districts; the Chapel Hills Subdivision was in two Commission districts; Thornton Rd. was in two Commission districts; and Chapel Hill Rd. was in two Commission districts. Each of these are now self-contained within one Commission district.
Prior to the new map, the Lutheran Church precinct was split between Commission Districts 2 and 3; the precinct was split between Commission Districts 3 and 4; and the Bill Arp precinct was split between Commission Districts 3 and 4. All of these precincts are now proposed to be totally contained within District 3.
All four Commission Districts in the new map have less than 2.9 percent difference in population from the others, well below the Federal maximum requirement of 5 percent deviation.
The State of Georgia is a Section 5 Covered Jurisdiction under the Voting Rights Act so the map was required to be reviewed by the United States Department of Justice. Sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act essentially require that, if a district can be drawn using contiguous neighborhoods and communities that have a majority of minority residents, then a district must be drawn so that a minority candidate has a reasonable chance to be elected based on the percentage of population.
The Georgia Secretary of State’s office will be mailing new precinct information cards to all Douglas County registered voters in July. The new cards will give all voters their new information concerning Congressional, State Senate, State Representative, Commission, School Board, and, if applicable, City Council Districts. No polling place locations were changed.
In addition, the new map is posted on the County web site, www.CelebrateDouglasCounty.com. It may be accessed through the red box on the web site’s home page which leads to an interactive property map. Users may type in an address, hit the “Search” button, and set map view (upper right-hand corner) to “New Commission Districts” and find which Commission District in which the address is located.
Other Douglasville Patch articles on this matter: