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Public hearing about redistricting set for Monday

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From staff reports

Caldwell County Commissioners will receive public comments at a special meeting next week on proposed new boundaries for the county’s four precincts.
The revised boundaries under consideration are made necessary by the results of the 2020 U.S. Census.
The area that comprises Precinct 4, which includes Dale and Lytton Springs, now has a disproportionately large portion of the population following an explosion of growth that has taken place since the last decennial census.
The proposed map, which is being prepared with the help of law firm Allison, Bass and Magee, will be available for viewing on the county’s website later this week, Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden said.
The special session is set for 9:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 8 at the Caldwell County Courthouse.
Redistricting is necessary due to uneven growth in the county, which now has a population of more than 44,000 people, according to census data, which is obtained by people voluntarily being counted.
An uneven population with a maximum deviation between districts of 10 percent necessitates redistricting within a county, and attorney Eric Magee said at a recent workshop that Caldwell County had a maximum deviation of 50.39 percent, thanks in part to Precinct 1, which includes most of Lockhart, recording a population of only 9,324 and Precinct 4, which includes Dale and Lytton Springs, having a population of 14,979.
“Ten percent is unconstitutional, and not in the legal window of ‘Should we redistrict?’” Magee said. “You’re not in that situation at all. Clearly, we need Precinct 4 to give people away to 1,2 and 3 to get you below that 10 percent.”
The task requires surgical precision due to statutes that require precincts with a majority minority population to retain that status to prevent gerrymandering, or manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency to favor one party or class.
In addition to maintaining majority minority status, keeping historic communities such as St. John’s intact is also necessary due to legal precedents.
“What we have to do when we’re redistricting is consider not just population, but also make decisions that are demographically driven,” Haden said. “(We have more to consider than balancing) and getting our deviation down. The ideal population in each precinct would be around 11,000 people.”
Precinct 4 has a population that is 69 percent Hispanic and 4 percent black, according to census data. Precinct 3, which contains Martindale, has a population that’s more than 50 percent Hispanic.
While a map is not yet available to view, commissioners at a recent workshop assigned Silent Valley from Pct. 3 into Pct. 1, portions of eastern Lockhart from Pct. 4 into Pct. 1, and moved a northern portion of Pct. 3 into Pct. 4.
Additionally, a portion of Pct. 4 was moved to Pct. 2.
The tentative redrawing of lines would reduce Pct. 4’s Hispanic population ratio from 69 percent to approximately 67 percent while bringing its maximum standard deviation to within legal parameters.
“Precincts are very similar in shape to what they were before,” Haden said.

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