Major political line shift foreseen

Friday, June 24, 2011

The number of people living in the north end of Marshall County grew so much between the 2000 and 2010 population counts that significant changes are required for political lines affecting voters, county commissioners and school board members.

County election commissioners realized that during a recent meeting when Elections Administrator Tristan Arnold reported how much the population grew in Districts 1 and 2. Now, their geographic size must contract because of a federal court ruling known as one man, one vote.

Moving lines for precincts is as old as the U.S. Constitution that has congressmen representing approximately the same number of people per district. That's true for county commissioners, school board members and councilmen representing city wards.

The dramatic difference in Marshall County shows that District 1 is out of balance by 25 percent and that District 2 has about 18 percent more people than it should.

"They had the most deviation," Arnold told election commissioners last week.

Redistricting also affects the election office's postage budget because it will have to mail new voter registration cards to all voters. There are about 17,600 registered voters in Marshall County. Awareness of redistricting could increase public participation in elections, resulting in the issuance of more voter registration cards. The election commission's proposed budget includes enough money to issue 18,000 voter registration cards.

This time last year, the election office budget was set at $233,212, Arnold said. This year the election office is asking for $212,320. That's down by almost $21,000 because county voters went to the polls in August and November and city voters cast ballots in May. During the 2011-12 fiscal year, there's a presidential primary, but the next presidential election is in November 2012, which is in another fiscal year.

Marshall County has hired a contractor to conduct redistricting and a redistricting committee is to be formed Monday and hold its first meeting after the monthly county commission meeting in the County Courthouse Annex on Lewisburg's Public Square.