City Considering Redefining Voting Precincts

The city is looking at modifying its voting precincts, Henry Graff reports for NBC-29. Right now there are eight precincts of wildly differing populations, which means that different precincts have to handle different turnouts and political parties that weight their nominations by precinct are making some people’s votes worth more than others’. Voter registrar Sheri Iachetta will be educating City Council on the topic, so that when census data comes out in February, they’ll be prepared to consider whether and how to modify those precinct boundaries based on that new data.

Out of curiosity, I took the results of the 2008 presidential elections by precinct, compared the percentage of the city’s vote that was cast in each precinct, and graphed how far off from the ideal percentage each precinct is. With eight precincts, each one should, ideally, be receiving 1/8 of voters, or 12.5%. Yet (for example) the Venable precinct received 18% of all votes, a 47% overrepresentation. The results look like this:

Obviously, turnout varies from election to election by a certain percentage, but even allowing for that, most of these precincts are wildly mis-sized. I’ve been told that the precincts haven’t really changed for many years. They were established back when the city was smaller, in terms of square miles, and as the city grew, precincts were simply expanded to reach the new borders. I don’t know if that’s true, but looking at the map, it makes sense.

Whatever changes Council winds up making, they’ll have to be signed off on by the Department of Justice, as is required under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for most of the south, a result of historical discrimination against minorities.

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