New district lines OK’d for county

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Lincoln County has been cleared to use new supervisor districtlines for the 2003 elections, meaning about 1,000 voters will becasting ballots in different precincts, board attorney Bob Allensaid Tuesday.

“The Attorney General of the United States interposed noobjections,” Allen said.

Redistricted supervisor lines are technically not “approved,”but are “pre-cleared” to indicate that they conform toConstitutional one man-one vote provisions and to minority votingstrength regulations of Sect. 5 in the Voting Rights Act. Allensaid the pre-clearance letter arrived earlier this month.

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“I’ve sent a copy of it to the board, to Terry (Lynn Watkins,circuit clerk) and to election commissioners,” Allen said.

Allen said election officials will conduct an “administrativereregistration” of affected voters and notify them of the changefrom one precinct to another. He said most of those affected wereeither in the city or just outside the city limits.

“If necessary, they’ll go door-to-door to notify everybody(affected),” Allen said.

The attorney was in the process of getting Watkins a map of thenew district lines.

Allen told supervisors Tuesday that justice court and constablepost lines had not yet been pre-cleared. He said the two post areasare determined by precincts and he did not anticipate anydifficulty after supervisor lines were cleared.

“The hard part, we’re over with,” Allen said.

Allen said any citizen may still file a legal challenge to thecounty’s district lines. However, he expected winning thatchallenge would be difficult after the lines have beenpre-cleared.

“When the justice department finds no objections, it puts apretty heavy burden on somebody,” Allen said.

In reviewing redistricting plans, Allen said the departmentlooks to ensure that black voting strength does not regress. Hesaid the county’s plan for District 1, the county’s predominantlyblack district, did not do that as far as minority votingstrength.

“Our plan basically moved it back to where it was,” Allensaid.

The new plan sets the minority majority percentage of District 1at 65.94 percent, with a voting age population of 62.68 percentblack. Following the 2000 census, the percentages had slipped to65.84 percent and 62.58 percent, respectively.

The department also looks at one-man, one-vote rules to ensurethat citizens’ votes count the same.

Supervisors districts can have no more than 10 percent variancefrom the most populous district to the least populous. The newcounty plan sets the total variance at 7.34 percent, down from a16.63 percent variance after the 2000 census.

“If we had stayed under 10 percent, we wouldn’t haveredistricted,” Allen said.