- Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 00:00
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The King George Board of Supervisors last week unanimously approved new boundary lines for election districts following a public hearing with only one comment from the public. The comment was in fact a clarification requested by resident John Heffernan about the proposed mapping changes.
The changes to the county’s election district ordinance were approved last Tuesday, April 19, and have been forwarded to the U.S. Department of Justice for review under the Voting Rights Act, with approval expected by the end of May.
Prior to the vote, Board of Supervisors Chairman Joe Grzeika commented on the process, saying, “As a
board, I found it a very encouraging process, the way we worked through this. You hear all the tales about people gerrymandering and the rest of that. When you look at this map, I think we can all be proud of the districts that we have. They are properly done. They met the letter of the law and the intent of the law and I think that’s important.”
He also credited county staff members, including Kyle Conboy, along with Registrar Lorrie Gump and the county Electoral Board for assistance in the matter.
Under federal law, the districts must be contiguous, compact, have clearly defined borders and have as near as practicable equal populations within plus or minus 5 percent.
Since the previous census, the King George population grew from 16,803 in the 2000 census to 23,584 people counted in 2010. That growth helped to shift a large increase to the James Monroe district, giving it a population of 7,566, compared to 6,321 in James Madison and only 4,725 in Dahlgren and 4,972 in Shiloh.
The biggest advertised change to the new election districts was to shift the Mathias Point peninsula from James Monroe to the Dahlgren District. Other portions of James Monroe in the center of the county were also swapped to Dahlgren and Shiloh, along with other carvings between Monroe and Madison.
The new election districts divide the county’s population as closely as possible and in line with federal guidelines that also include avoiding splits of political subdivisions and precincts, preserving communities of interest, preserving the basic shape of existing districts, voter convenience, continuing minority voting strength and keeping staggered terms.
The population numbers for the new election districts are as follows: James Monroe – 5,895, James Madison – 5,950, Dahlgren - 5,850 and Shiloh – 5,889.
Those numbers include a shift of 57 people made during deliberations last week prior to the vote to approve the new districts. That change was made on a suggestion by Supervisor chairman Joe Grzeika, who said he had received the request from a resident who asked to keep residents along Millbank Road together, instead of splitting them between districts as had been proposed.
Opportunities for public involvement were provided throughout the process. Supervisors had spent portions of several meetings in March reviewing and revising different mapping options for redrawing election districts to conform to population shifts from the 2010 census.
The Board of Supervisors held open public comment times at all its meetings since March 15, including work sessions on March 28 and March 31 when they publicly deliberated on several proposals put forward for redistricting.
Using the census data, the census block information and criteria for the districts, the Board of Supervisors and the Registrar and staff prepared several versions of a redistricting map. Map proposals were posted online at the county’s website and displayed at the Revercomb Administration building, the Citizens Center and the YMCA.
View the new election district map on our website journalpress.com.