Vance County Board of Commissioner’s Redistricting
VANCE COUNTY BEGINS REDISTRICTING PROCESS
2020 Census results require Vance County to redraw existing districts for the Board of County Commissioners and the Board of Education. As we begin this process, the county is seeking input from the public in three scheduled listening sessions as follows:
- September 28th at 6PM – Board of Commissioners Meeting Room (122 Young Street, Henderson)
- October 11th at 6PM – Townsville Volunteer Fire Department (12729 NC 39 Hwy North, Henderson)
- October 18th at 6PM – Kittrell Volunteer Fire Department (54 W. Main Street, Kittrell)
CLICK HERE FOR: CURRENT VANCE COUNTY DISTRICT MAP
CLICK HERE FOR: CENSUS 2020 – POPULATION BY DISTRICT CHART
CLICK HERE FOR: CENSUS 2020 – POPULATION MAPS
BASIS FOR REDRAWING DISTRICT LINES
I. POPULATION EQUALITY – ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held state elected governing bodies must have population equality among election districts, often referred to as the principle of “one person, one vote.” In Reynolds v. Sims, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires population equality in state legislative districts. Article II, Sections 3 and 5 of the N.C. Constitution also requires that both houses of the North Carolina legislature must be redistricted according to population. The U.S. Supreme Court has applied these principles to county and municipal elections districts as well.
II. CALCULATION OF IDEAL POPULATION AND DEVIATION FROM THE IDEAL
To comply with the “one person, one vote” standard, an ideal population is established for each district by dividing the population by the number of elected officials to be elected from districts. Based on 2020 census data, North Carolina is the 10th largest state in the nation, with a total Vance County population of 42,578. There are seven members of the County Commission and School Board elected from districts and thus the ideal population for the districts is 6,083. The lowest population district three is 94% of that ideal or 5,732 and the highest population district seven is 113% of the ideal or 6,880. The chart below shows the approximate population deviation in each of the seven current county commissioner/school board districts.
|District||2020 Total Pop.||Ideal Pop.||Deviation||Pop Dev %|
Some deviation from precisely equal districts is permitted for state and local government bodies. A series of rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court has established that an overall range of population deviation from the ideal population of less than 10 percent will not be a prima facie violation of the Equal Protection Clause. (Brown vs. Thompson, 462 U.S. 835 (1983)). The N.C. Constitution has been interpreted to require a stricter standard, however. In 2002, the N.C. Supreme Court in Stephenson v. Bartlett, required that no State House or State Senate district may have a census population that is five percent (5%) greater or five percent (5%) smaller than the ideal population for a House or Senate district. No North Carolina case has held this to be the standard for local elected districts however, among election law practitioners it is considered prudent to draft districts to meet both the 10% overall deviation range required by federal law and the plus or minus 5% required by state law. The 10% deviation range for Vance County would be 608 voters. The 5% deviation range would be 304.
III. TRADITIONAL REDISTRICTING CRITERIA
As a legal matter the one-person one vote standard, the Voting Rights Act standards, the equal protection standards and the political gerrymandering standards are required by law. Even if a jurisdiction adheres to these legal standards, a jurisdiction may voluntarily adopt additional criteria for a jurisdiction which are “second order” standards. Put differently after a plan has satisfied the legal requirements a jurisdiction if it plans to consistently apply a standard can adopt additional criteria by which to guide the map drawer. A few of these are listed below:
- Maintaining communities of interest
- Maintaining the least change in current election districts
- Protecting incumbent commissioners by not placing two existing commissioners in the same new districts
- Using whole precincts to make election administration easier and avoid voter confusion
The decision to adopt additional redistricting criteria is a discretionary one with the county commission.