Commission begins re-districting process

Published 11:32 am Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Information from the 2010 Census has shown that Crenshaw County’s population has shifted, and the County Commission is beginning the process of re-districting.

Probate Judge Jim Perdue brought the issue up during the work session Monday morning.

Even though the Commission won’t run again for several years, members of the school board are up for election in 2010.

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“We’ve always tried to match the commission and school board districts,” said Perdue, who explained that keeping the district lines the same for both entities helps keep confusion down during elections.

Not sharing boundaries would cause different ballot styles within the same voting precinct.

Perdue said there are a number of guidelines that have to be followed during the re-districting process, such as getting all districts within 10 percent of each other in terms of population.

“You can’t change the number of districts, and you can’t change the voting strength of the minority district,” he said.

The residences of current commissioners and school board members must also be taken into account, because they cannot be moved out of their current district.

The following is a breakdown of Crenshaw County’s population from information presented by the South Central Alabama Development Commission (SCADC) and the 2010 Census.

Total Population: 13,906

District 1
Population: 3,478 Deviation: 697 (25.06 percent)

District 2
Population: 2,644 Deviation: -137 (-4.93 percent)

District 3
Population: 3,200 Deviation: 419 (15.07 percent)

District 4
Population: 2,349 Deviation: -432 (-15.53 percent)

District 5
Population: 2,227 Deviation: -554 (-19.92 percent)

The ideal population for each district is 2,781.

The re-districting can be done by SCADC for free, and Perdue suggested letting SCADC do the work, then present it to the commission for approval.

“I think we ought to have input initially,” said commissioner Merrill Sport.

“I think should let them do a template and bring it in and then it can be tweaked,” said commissioner Charlie Sankey. “If we get him in here and start telling him what all we want, it will mess him up.”

Sport pointed out that the process can be used to get more county residents to vote.

“We can make it more convenient for folks to vote, like people who live in Rutledge having to go to Honoraville to vote,” he said.

Sport also said that each commissioner has a “pulse” on their district in regards to issues like that.

Ultimately, the commission decided to form a committee consisting of chairman Ricky McElwain, commissioner Merrill Sport, administrator David Smyth and county engineer Benjie Sanders.

This committee will work with SCADC on a proposal for new districts.

Perdue said that the project needs to be done quickly because of legislation that may go into effect, moving Alabama’s primaries from June to March in presidential election years, which would impact next year’s school board races.

County attorney Johnny Nichols advised the commission and SCADC to get as close to zero deviation as possible.

“That makes it less likely that it’ll have to be done again in 10 years,” he said.