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Spotsylvania OKs new district map
Spotsylvania board signs off on redistricting plan, sets public hearing for May 24.


Date published: 4/27/2011

BY AMY UMBLE

Even the most sadistic math teacher would have a tough time coming up with a problem as complicated as the one Spotsylvania County officials face.

On the surface, creating seven roughly equal districts for 122,397 people seems simple enough. But throw in geography and 14 rules, and dividing the county's residents into fair voting districts becomes tricky.

For the past three months, 10 Spotsylvania employees have met seven times to draw the district lines. Last night, this redistricting working group submitted a plan to the county's Board of Supervisors.

With one tweak, supervisors approved this new county map. The public will get a chance to weigh in on it May 24.

Every 10 years, when new population numbers come out from the U.S. Census, supervisors are required to redraw voting district lines to make sure each has a roughly equal number of residents so that everyone is fairly represented.

"It's a balancing act," said county spokeswoman Kathy Smith, who was part of the redistricting working group.

Demographics also play a key role, and Spotsylvania employees spent much of the process considering minority populations. Initially, a handful of interest groups asked supervisors to consider creating a district in which at least 51 percent of residents are minorities.

County employees opened the seven work sessions to the public, and after witnessing the complexity of shuffling boundaries, these special-interest groups concluded that such a district would be impossible.

The county redistricting committee came in just under the wire with a scenario, finishing Monday afternoon to submit to supervisors for last night's meeting.

Supervisors asked questions about some specific boundaries but had few issues overall.

County planner Andrew Hopewell said this map keeps minority populations together and comes close to the target district populations. The Department of Justice allows a 5 percent deviation from the target population.

In the plan submitted last night, the combined deviations for all seven districts is 3.3 percent. Salem has the largest deviation, with a population 1.82 percent greater than the target.

The current boundaries wouldn't change dramatically under this plan. Some districts, such as Courtland, would pick up new residents, while the fast-growing Lee Hill and Salem districts would lose numbers.


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