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Hernando County to redraw voting districts by the numbers

BROOKSVILLE — The time has come to even things out again, at least in terms of making sure Hernando County's elected leaders are each serving roughly the same number of residents.

The County Commission and the School Board will sit in a rare joint workshop at 9 a.m. Tuesday to discuss redrawing district lines used for elections. Both boards use the same lines.

The lines are more important to candidates than to voters. Each commissioner and each School Board member must live within their district, but residents countywide can cast votes in all five districts.

With the results of the 2010 census in hand, officials have been working on various plans for evening out the numbers, which is required by law.

In the last 10 years, more people moved into District 4, the district of Commissioner Dave Russell and School Board member James Yant. That put the District 4 total of 39,324 residents out of kilter with the others, especially District 5, the home district for Commissioner Jim Adkins and School Board member Cynthia Moore.

That means that District 4 will have to shrink geographically and District 5 grow. Adjustments in the other districts will have to be made as well to make sure there is no more than a 5 percent difference in populations among them.

Each district must contain between 32,828 and 36,284 residents.

Three proposals for slight shifts in district lines will be brought forward at Tuesday's workshop at the Hernando County Government Center. They were developed by county planning staffers in conjunction with the school district and the supervisor of elections.

"To avoid disruption to existing voter precincts and avoid possible voter confusion, drastic changes in district boundaries were not considered,'' according to the staff report.

The residences of the sitting elected officials and candidates who already have declared for 2012 were considered so that no one would be carved out of their existing districts. Precinct boundaries were also a part of the equation because dividing precincts complicates the election process.

Earlier this year, the local chapter of the NAACP expressed interest in the redistricting process, and county staffers met with representatives last month. The organization has not yet submitted a formal recommendation regarding the boundaries.

Once the County Commission and School Board approve the lines, they must be published, recorded with the clerk of the circuit court and transmitted to the Department of State by the School Board.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando County to redraw voting districts by the numbers 10/28/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2011 6:38pm]
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