Commissioners ‘Court Approves County Commissioners’ Wards Redistribution Plan | New
The Harrison County Commissioners Court recently held a public hearing regarding the redistribution and approved a resolution, passing a plan to redistribute and redefine the County Commissioners precinct.
âIt is simply a matter of discussing the precinct of the commissioner. We have heard the report. We gathered the census information and prepared a plan that only adjusts the police stations to distribute them fairly across our population, according to the law, âCounty Judge Chad Sims said.
The county is joining other jurisdictions across the country in the task of redrawing district boundaries, following the release of the latest census data. Census data contains details on race, housing tenure status, voting age, and other information that helps states redraw legislative boundaries.
Longtime county redistribution lawyer Mike Morrison provided the court with the details needed to meet the redistribution requirements.
Explaining the need to balance the population, Morrison explained that the redistribution plan must meet the guarantees of equal protection of the Fifth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Constitutional Amendments. Thus, equal protection, in the context of redistribution, requires equity in representation.
âThe idea here is that each rep should represent roughly the same number of people,â Morrison said. âIf you have too many people in your neighborhood, those people are under-represented. They get less than their share of the commissioner’s vote. And if you don’t have enough people, we say those people are overrepresented.
Thus, redistribution should avoid plans that lead to over-representation (too few residents gives each greater influence) and under-representation (too much results in less influence).
âSince the late 1960s we have to balance this population and we have to use the census,â Morrison said.
Reflecting on the results of the 2020 county census, Morrison noted that Harrison County’s population increased by 3,208 people, from a total of 65,631 people in the 2010 census to 68,839 citizens in the 2020 census.
Morrison noted that population equity does not require a “perfect” balance. It is judged against a principle commonly known as “one person, one vote,” which actually refers to hot bodies – not voters.
Looking at the ideal population, dividing Harrison County’s last population of 68,839 into four ridings, the total number of people to balance ridings should be 17,210.
“If it doesn’t have to be perfect, how close is it to perfect?” If you take the county population – 68,839 and divide it by four (county commissioner enclosures), that gives you the number of an ideal enclosure, âhe explained.
Morrison said the biggest challenge facing the county is how to add more people to constituencies 1 and 2, both of which have seen population declines. District 1 is currently represented by Commissioner William Hatfield and District 2 is represented by Commissioner Zephaniah Timmins.
âWard 1 is 15,411. That’s almost 1,800 people below. You have to win people over. Enclosure 2 has just over 2,100 people underneath. The two [Precincts] 3 and 4 are bred with[Precinct] 3 being the highest, so if nothing else happens, we have that maximum deviation of 30.09%. We are three times the constitutional tolerance on the distribution of the population among our four constituencies. What must happen is [Precincts] 1 and 2 must win people and [Precincts] 3 and 4 must lose people, but [Precincts]1 and 2 are on one side of the county and [Precincts] 3 and 4 are on the other side of the county. So we kind of have to get people back and forth, âhe said.
âIn order to balance the population, all the changes were made in the rural areas,â Morrison said. “I feel like it’s about as good as we could have made it and that we always end up with lines that you can work with.”
To view the resolution highlighting the proposed 2021 redistribution plan and the neighborhood boundaries that have been approved, visit the News Messenger website at www.marshallnewsmessenger.com.