Voting districts for the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners could remain largely unchanged for the next decade.
In a preliminary vote on Tuesday, seven of nine commissioners voted to approve a redistricting map that would move just one precinct from the current plan. The map would move a precinct from District 2, which encompasses the western part of the county, to District 5, which includes much of the area south of uptown.
The commissioners will vote to formally adopt a new elections map on Nov. 3.
Following the once-a-decade release of U.S. Census data, governments redraw maps that determine which areas vote for which candidates. The process, called redistricting, is often fueled by heated partisan debate, as political parties fight over whether the new maps disenfranchise each other’s voters.
In the case of the Board of County Commissioners, though, there was little partisan debate. The board is made up entirely of Democrats, with six district representatives and three at-large members.
The map that was approved to move forward on Tuesday would move Precinct 98 — an area that includes the Montclaire neighborhood south of uptown.
Politicians must move precincts from one district to another to comply with various legal standards. Primarily, in the county’s case, they must ensure that districts are substantially equal in population. If one district is too big, they must move precincts from it to another, smaller district.
The primary mission of redistricting revolves around the principle of “one person one vote,” meaning that the votes of people in smaller districts have more political power than the votes of people in larger districts.
In Mecklenburg County, two districts — District 2 and District 5 — were not in compliance with the goal of relative population equality, with an ideal number of residents set at about 186,000 people.
Census data revealed this year that District 2 has about 195,800 people, while District 5 has just 171,000 people. Moving Precinct 98 would bring District 2 to 186,900 people and District 5 to 179,800.
Other redistricting options for Mecklenburg
Commissioners could pick from two other maps.
One would have moved two precincts. The other, called Map C, would have been a major shakeup, moving 60 precincts and dramatically altering the elections map.
District 6, which currently stretches across much of the southern portion of Mecklenburg County, would be consolidated to just the south-central portion. District 5 would be shifted north into uptown, and District 4 would shift to include the eastern corner.
Suzanne Elsberry, the co-president of the League of Women Voters of Charlotte Mecklenburg, told commissioners on Tuesday that her organization supported Map C because it would have made the districts more compact.
Danny Diehl, the spokesman for Mecklenburg County, said on Tuesday that the county had reviewed public comment on the issue, but that public input was limited to two emails and 22 social media comments.
Both emails and 11 of the 22 comments were in favor of Map C, he said.
If commissioners stick with the plan they chose Tuesday, called Map A, and formally approve it Nov. 3, it will be submitted to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections later that month.
Primary elections for the Board of County Commissioners, the city of Charlotte, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House and the state legislature are scheduled for March 2022, though the date could change as redistricting continues. A general election for the City Council and the school board is scheduled for April or May 2022, along with a possible second primary for federal offices.
The only Mecklenburg County elections in fall 2021 are for the towns of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, Pineville, and Stallings.