Gadsden County commissioners heard a presentation by Mark Logan, an attorney from Sniffen & Spellman Law Firm, concerning state requirements for redistricting.
According to Logan, it is a state-mandated requirement that the county “shall” take action on redistricting.
He explained that this must be done after the US Census has been taken.
In the case of Gadsden County, the census was taken in 2010. The redistricting action takes place in odd years.
The commission postponed the redistricting issue in 2011. This year it would need to be dealt with or the county, according to Logan, would have to wait until 2015.
Logan explained that it takes a good faith, due- diligence effort on the part of the county to look at the districts.
He continued saying that the commission would need to look at the populations (in each district) and determine whether it makes sense to adjust districts.
He went on to say if there was a rational reason and defensible reason not to do it then that was okay.
“As long as you meet the constitutional obligation to the citizens saying you have looked at this issue and here are our reasons why we are going to act on changes or not act on changes,” then you have complied, Logan said.
He further stated that if you do not take any action on redistricting you are subject to a writ of mandamus from any voter in the county from any district saying to the court to order the commission to take action.
“If you have acted and taken reasonable action,” he said, “you then force the person who made the request to refute the action you have taken.”
Logan said that changing districts did not have to happen if one district was five percent more than others. It would be up to the commission to make that determination.
One example, Logan explained, would be that if one district was slightly over five percent based upon voter information, but not on total population, there is a rational basis for taking action to change or not change the district.
Commissioner Sherrie Taylor said that the board needed to make sure they had all the information available when they discussed this issue.
“We need to do due-diligence as commissioners when we look at this,” Taylor said.
Taylor asked that the redistricting issue be brought back to the commission as soon as possible.
County Administrator Robert Presnell stated he would try and have it ready for the second meeting in April.
(This discussion can be seen at the Herald’s web site: havanaherald.net, or on our Havana Herald facebook page.)