On Tuesday, the City of Charlotte hosted its first
opportunity for Charlotte residents to provide feedback on the city’s redistricting process. Led by the
Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee, the city is redrawing City Council electoral district boundaries to ensure all district populations are nearly equal — a legal principle known as “one person, one vote.”
Redistricting is a complex process involving population demography data, legal guidance and community interests. To understand it better, let’s look at some of the questions committee members and the redistricting team addressed on Tuesday.
Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee will hold its next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at noon. The full Charlotte City Council will hold a public hearing to consider one or more proposed redistricting maps at its meeting on Oct. 18 beginning at 3 p.m. Visit the Office of the City Clerk online to
sign up to speak during the public hearing. Residents can view both meetings on the
Draft map A is an attempt to rebalance the districts primarily with the least possible change — moving the fewest possible precincts to bring the districts within plus or minus 5% of the ideal district size of 124,950 people. Currently, the only district that is constitutionally compliant with population balance is District 7. All other districts are either above or below the ideal population size by more than 5% — one of them as much as 12% above.
Draft maps B and C attempt to follow the rest of the criteria to keep communities of interest together and to account for growth in districts 2, 3 and 4. All the maps take into account race so that what were traditionally districts in which minority populations made up the majority of residents, those are still majority-minority districts.
Listed with the three draft plans the Redistricting Committee moved forward for public comment is a fourth plan the committee removed from further consideration. This plan aimed to create districts with transportation corridors in common, which is not one of the
adopted district criteria.
Please define “communities of interest.”
There is no precise definition. It is a subjective determination of community interests based on factors such as race or ethnicity, or specific issues, or income, or historic areas. An area could be considered a community of interest if its people have a reasonable and identifiable characteristic in common.
For example, there are parts of east Charlotte that are generally viewed as having a higher proportion of the immigrant community than the rest of the city. That would be considered a community of interest. But also, you can consider something like people who live near the airport and have concerns or questions about noise as being a community of interest.
When evaluating a particular precinct to be moved, the city must try and balance whether the area has more in common with the district it’s being moved into than it had with the district it’s being moved from.
How would redistricting affect the city, Mecklenburg County, or Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, services such as day-to-day utility and first responder activities, voting locations and school funding?
City Council redistricting is limited to redrawing council districts to comply with the constitutional requirement of one person, one vote. Nothing about these maps changes response areas for first responders or utility services, or where someone votes. Redistricting only changes who the people in that precinct are can vote for in the City Council district seats. It doesn't affect anything else.
precinct boundaries are drawn by the
Mecklenburg County Board of Elections not by the City Council.
The City Council redistricting will not affect school district lines or school funding. The city does not have primary responsibility for school funding. That's a county, school board and state function.
Why not establish an eighth City Council district?
The eighth district was among recommendations made by
the Citizen Advisory Committee on Governance to City Council, along with four-year terms for council members. It was not practical to accomplish the creation and adoption of an additional district in the timeframe legally required for completion of the redistricting process. Those two recommendations are still pending and may be considered in the future by City Council but it is not part of the charge to the committee.
Explain the law or rationale that allows politicians to draw the district boundaries.
Under North Carolina law, the only two groups that have the legal authority to draft these council district lines are either the legislature or the body that is being redistricted. In this case, the only two groups that could do this, by law, are the City Council or the North Carolina legislature.
There is the possibility of using a citizens advisory committee for input, but that's difficult for this election year because of the very
shortened schedule for completing redistricting in time for the candidate filing period, and for the Nov. 17 deadline by which the city must notify the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections of revised district boundaries.
Is there a map option that would adversely impact a particular council member or party? In other words, would a historically safe district for one party be up for a serious challenger from the opposing party as a result of one of these maps?
No. All the draft maps maintain a relatively close balance, based on partisan registration, to the
Of the three
draft maps, draft map B probably comes closest to maintaining that balance across the board. But in draft maps B and C, the two districts that have traditionally elected Republicans do not suffer any degradation of the percentage of Republican registration.
How does the redistricting, account for independent or unaffiliated voters?
Precinct statistics on the
elections board’s website show partisan registration for Democrat, Republican and for “other,” and “other” is predominantly made up of unaffiliated voters, but it also includes libertarians. Aside from unaffiliated voters, the other registrations are statistically insignificant.
The registration numbers typically used are the two major parties. That’s what's referenced in the previous criteria in years past, and it's what the redistricting team reviewed to assess whether any districts were harmed or helped on a partisan basis.
What is the process for narrowing down the existing three draft maps to just one for city council vote?
The committee will release a recommended draft map in time for the Oct. 18 public hearing. Once all community and committee input is received, including comments from public hearing, the committee will make a final recommendation of a draft map to the City Council for consideration and adoption on Nov. 8.