Lexington begins electoral redistribution based on population growth


Redistribution has become a dirty word, especially in North Carolina in recent years, but it is required after the release of the 2020 US Census data in August.

Every 10 years, residents of the United States undergo the census where the number of people in each household is counted. These population counts are used in a variety of ways, such as determining the number of seats each state has in the United States House of Representatives, and are used to define the boundaries of local electoral districts in order to accurately represent that district.

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North Carolina electoral districts are based on the “one person / one vote” principle, which means that each district should be nearly equal in population.

According to 2020 census figures, the city of Lexington has experienced population growth of 3.7% over the past 10 years. But where in the city these growths have taken place will determine whether Lexington’s six constituencies will need to be recalibrated.

City officials said at a recent city council meeting that they would use GIS mapping software to capture the current boundaries and then add census information to determine where the most growth has occurred.

“Before long we will be able to start sharing the numbers as they exist today. We can see if there are any variations required; different options and information about individual blocks to determine if they need to be moved from one district to another, ”said Tammy Absher, director of Lexington Business and Community Development.

Depending on whether or not a polling district needs to be redistributed, the new map based on census information could be available for review within the next month. If a major redistribution is necessary, the process can take 12 to 16 weeks.

Associated article:Davidson County sees population increase, but white residents decline according to 2020 census figures

“We are pushing the boundaries of neighborhoods,” Absher said. “First, we’ll start by creating the boundaries of the existing neighborhoods and looking at the stats with the 2020 information to see if any changes are needed. From there, if it is determined that we are outside of acceptable ranges, we will begin to create plans that can be evaluated by city council.

According to the UNC School of Government, the accepted rule of thumb for local governments is that “no district should be more than or less than five percent above or below the ideal population of exact equality.” If the 2020 census shows that existing districts are already within this range of overall deviation of plus or minus five percent, there is no need to redirect the district ”.

Proposed neighborhood changes must be approved by city council.

The process of redistributing constituencies and political districts is under additional pressure this year due to the delayed release of the 2020 census data. Normally, the census figures would have been released in March, but due to the pandemic the data were only published in mid-August.

Usually, local municipalities would have several months to go through the redistribution process before running in local and national elections, but due to the delay in the census, several municipal elections have been rescheduled, including Lexington.

Following:Lexington City Council elections postponed until March 8 due to enumeration delays due to COVID

The new state law requires that municipalities whose offices are up for election in 2021 where the candidate is elected by wards or districts be delayed until March 8, 2022, to allow for revisions of electoral districts after the publication of the 2020 U.S. Census data.

The city of Lexington is holding neighborhood elections, which depend on the results of the redistribution process. Also under this new law, elections for the Lexington City School Board of Schools will also be held on March 8.

Municipal elections for other communities that are not district races, such as Thomasville, Denton, Wallburg and Midway, will still be held on November 2, 2021.

General information reporter Sharon Myers can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @LexDispatchSM.

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