Despite court decision striking down pre-clearance, Calhoun County's new district lines adhere to Voting Rights Act
by Brian Anderson
banderson@annistonstar.com
Oct 11, 2013 | 3647 views |  0 comments | 54 54 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision this year to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act, Calhoun County’s proposed redistricting for the 2014 commission elections will adhere to the act’s guidelines.

The Calhoun County Commission has scheduled a public hearing for Oct. 22 to discuss a proposed new district map for the county. It’s the first time the county has redistricted in almost a decade, and the first time since 1965 the county won’t need approval from the U.S. Department of Justice to go forward with redistricting plans.

In June, the Supreme Court struck down a provision of the act that determines which states need federal approval for election changes.

Although the county no longer needs federal preclearance, Calhoun County Administrator Ken Joiner said the commission went through the same process of redistricting as if the Voting Rights Act still applied.

“The only thing we’re not doing is submitting it for approval,” Joiner said. “Because we’re not supposed to.”

Most of the work on the map was completed last year, and contains a district — District 1, currently represented by Fred Wilson — where the majority of residents are minorities, as required under the Voting Rights Act. Joiner said the preliminary map the commission drew in 2012 is essentially unchanged from the one it’ll present at the public hearing later this month.

The biggest proposed changes for the county are in District 5, which contains Jacksonville and Piedmont and is now represented by Rudy Abbott. Although the proposed map keeps both cities in the district, much of the unincorporated area south of Piedmont, including Rabbittown and parts of White Plains, would join District 2, which covers most of the eastern portion of the county, including DeArmanville, Choccolocco, and eastern parts of Anniston. That district now is represented by Tim Hodges.

J.J. Taylor, member of the Calhoun County Board of Registrars, said he didn’t know how many polling places the new districts might affect, but said the biggest changes would likely take place within Anniston’s city limits. Parts of Golden Springs would move from District 1 to District 2 if the proposed map is approved.

Joiner said he knew at least one polling place in Jacksonville and Piedmont would likely be eliminated with the district lines, and one added in McClellan.

Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.

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