SMITH COUNTY — Smith County is asking for redistricting input from the public at two upcoming public hearings and through the County’s redistricting web page at www.smith-county.com .
According to the Census Bureau the Smith County population grew to 209,714 in 2010, making the ideal population for the four commissioner precincts 52,429. According to the initial data presented to the court, only County precincts 1 and 4 will be affected by the proposed new boundaries. Initial information showed Precinct 1 experienced significant growth and is more than 10 percent above its ideal population, while Precinct 4 needs about 9.5 percent more population. Each commissioner precinct must be within 10 percent deviation from the ideal population. The new population numbers create a 19.5 percent imbalance. The proposed plan will address the imbalance and bring Precinct 4 under the 10 percent threshold.
“In order for the County to maintain a balanced population representation it is important that the citizens of Precinct 4 participate in the redistricting process,” Commissioner Hampton said.
Morning and evening public hearings will be held on June 21 at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. inside the Smith County Courthouse Annex, 200 E. Ferguson St. is the public is also encouraged to send questions, concerns and input to County Commissioners via the “comments” tab on the Smith County redistricting page at www.smith-county.com . The page allows citizens to send emails (anonymously if desired) to members of the court for consideration. The page also includes maps of the proposed precinct changes and Census data for Smith County.
Citizens are encouraged to use the comments link on the Smith County redistricting page or call Commissioner JoAnn Hampton concerning precinct 4 or Commissioner Jeff Warr concerning precinct 1 at 903-590-4605.
Criteria for redistricting include adopting precincts of relatively equal size, with identifiable boundaries, such as highways; maintaining communities of interest and neighborhoods; ensuring precincts are contiguous and maintaining existing representation while complying with the Voting Rights Act. The new lines must adhere to the 1965 Voting Rights Act which was designed to protect minority voters.
The United States Constitution requires election districts, from U.S. Congress to local school boards, to have about equal population after each census.
Information from Smith County Commissioners Court