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Hinesville City Council begins redistricting process
Districts to be redrawn to comply with Voting Rights Act by next election
web 0511 resdistricting workshop
The Hinesville City Council, city attorney and GIS staff discuss redistricting Monday during a workshop. - photo by Denise Etheridge

The Hinesville City Council poured over district maps and discussed population splits between voting districts Monday afternoon during a redistricting workshop.

According to the 2010 Census, Hinesville’s population is 33,437, an increase of more than 3,000 residents in the past decade. The city had 30,392 residents in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Following the advice of Hinesville city attorney Linnie Darden, the council voted last week to redraw its voting districts to comply with the Voting Rights Act. Darden recommended the council immediately move forward on redistricting to avoid any potential lawsuits over the fairness of the upcoming election.

City leaders must show they are making an effort to adhere to the Voting Rights Act concept of “one person, one vote” and ensure the population in each of the city’s five districts is equitably distributed, Darden explained.

The council’s urgency in getting the redistricting process under way is due to it being an election year. Candidates may qualify for the upcoming municipal election starting Aug. 29. Hinesville will hold its municipal election Nov. 8.

Darden suggested the council begin the redistricting process before the qualifying period begins.

The city’s 2010 Census numbers shows District 2 lost about 600 residents since the 2000 Census, and District 4 gained more than 2,000.

City staff broke down each voting district’s population data by demographics and census blocks.

District 1, Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier’s district, appeared to be a minority majority district, with 35 percent white voters, 53 percent black voters and the remaining 12 percent of residents categorized as mixed or belonging to other ethnic and racial groups, such as Hispanic and Pacific Islander.

Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards said the city’s demographic figures show the other four districts were fairly evenly distributed along racial lines.

District 2 had 54 percent white voters, 34 percent black and 12 percent other; District 3 had 39 percent white, 48 percent black and 13 percent other; District 4 had 38 percent white, 50 percent black and 12 percent other; and District 5 tallied 38 percent white, 49 percent black and 13 percent other.

Edwards said these racial percentages were tallied before the city “allocated population from census districts that were split among two or more council districts.”

“We haven’t refined the numbers since we allocated the population from the split census blocks, nor have we recalculated the numbers since we tentatively moved some district lines,” he said.

The city’s end goal is to ensure each district has 6,680 voters, plus or minus 5 percent, Edwards said.

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