The Panola County Commissioners’ Court heard from a representative of Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP in a discussion Tuesday on whether a redistribution would be necessary for commissioner constituencies and how to move that process forward.
During the meeting, it was determined that the redistribution would be necessary, and the court passed Redistribution Orders applying to the development of new redistribution plans and guidelines for public participation in the redistribution process. .
Claudia Russell, of Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP, showed the Commissioners the numbers in each constituency as determined by the 2020 census data. The constituency figures are supposed to be pretty close, and the rule of thumb is that it doesn’t There is no more than a 10 percent difference, Russell said. If there is more than that, then a redistribution is necessary. Panola County has a 21.32 percent gap.
Russell went through several charts and maps, explaining how the ideal size for the Panola County wall is 5,623. The total population is 22,491. With 6,068 people, PCT. 1 is over 7.92% and with 4,869 people, pct. 3 is 13.41 percent lower. Russell added these two percentages together to get the county’s total spread of 21.32%.
“There are a number of laws that we need to balance to legally redirect and withstand scrutiny for any legal challenges that may arise,” Russell said. “So the first thing we have to consider is what’s called a person, a voice. This is the basic principle of redistribution.
That’s where the less than 10% spread rule comes in, Russell said. Russell reviewed the various charts and population counts that can influence redistribution decisions.
“There are different types of population charts that we’re going to go through,” she said. “There are also graphs that you will see that show the voting age population. This is when you determine your total population by your one person, one vote. If you have enough minorities in your district, it could create a minority / majority district, which seems not to be the case here, but I’m just trying to give you all a great rundown of all that needs to go through.
“Then you look at the voting age population to look at the voting rights issues,” she said. “So again, in addition to a person, a vote, there is another line of law that says you cannot discriminate on the basis of race, language and minority status. While I don’t think it will be a problem here looking at your numbers first, but just so that you all fully understand what redistribution is, it’s just a layer and a layer of laws.
Russell explained examples of redistribution from other counties and also showed the Commissioners what not to do.
“Use identifiable boundaries if you can, highways, lakes and the like,” she said. “Maintain communities of interest in neighborhoods. Don’t make weird designs … we base our plan on existing neighborhoods. We’re not just starting over. We’re starting with the district we have, and making as few changes as possible to get you all back on track. Again, we want a relatively even size. We want compact ridings, not oversized, and we want to keep our incumbents in their ridings just because your electorate, the people who voted you last time, we want to maintain that, if possible, keep going again, just using the less movement required to bring you all into compliance.
Two drawing workshops were scheduled for the court, the first on Thursday, October 7 at 9 a.m. and the second on Thursday, October 21 at 9 a.m. – although Russell said the second may not be necessary.
“So the drawing session is where you can see the movement in the constituencies and the number of people going there,” Russell said. “And then you want to be able to have feedback from the audience, and you want to be able to hear what the audience has to say, and what you could do is do it at the start of maybe the second drawing session after, that may be a good time, and we can talk about it later. But you want to be able to give them the opportunity to comment before adopting a final plan and then implementing it, and at this point we may have to reconfigure some electoral districts, and that will happen when the legislature draws its maps for Congress and the House and Senate.
The final adoption for the redistribution is Tuesday, November 9 at 1:30 p.m.