The Charter for the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (ACCGov) requires election district boundaries for ACCGov Commission districts to be reapportioned following the publication of each official federal decennial census. This allows for districts to change size as appropriate based on population changes over the previous 10 years.
The redistricting has several specifications. Each election district should consist of contiguous territory, have boundary lines set as the centerlines of streets or other well-defined boundaries as utilized by the United States Census Bureau, be as nearly equal in population as practicable, and comply with the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. The requirement for election districts to be as nearly equal in population as practicable is a Constitution requirement under the one person, one vote principle.
Census data from the 2020 Census was released months later than usual due to delays caused by the pandemic. On October 19, 2021, the Mayor and Commission approved a resolution requesting the assistance of the Board of Elections in preparing and recommending the redistricting plan for the Commission’s review and approval prior to its submission to the Georgia Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office for certification.
In carrying out this resolution, the Board of Elections was tasked with ensuring that the Charter's provisions were upheld, along with, where practical, redistricting best practices recommended by the Georgia Municipal Association. These include prioritizing voter convenience, avoiding dilution of likely voter affinity groups, preserving compact and contiguous districts, protecting incumbents, and avoiding racial or political gerrymandering.
ACCGov’s Geospatial Information Office assisted the Board of Elections in preparing the redistricting plan with the goal of delivering a redistricting plan for the Commission’s review and approval that provides 10 Commission districts aligned as closely as possible to existing boundaries while taking into account 2020 Census block boundaries and data. The timeline included provisions for a draft map for Mayor and Commission review and approval to be produced by November 11, 2021.
After a series of meetings and map draft versions, the Board of Elections voted to forward a series of maps for the 10 Commission districts to the Mayor and Commission. The Mayor and Commission began reviewing the maps in a Work Session meeting on November 9, 2021. The meeting and discussion is available for online viewing at www.accgov.com/redistricting or on YouTube at https://youtu.be/skWshuqpxSc or www.youtube.com/accgov.
The following changes are proposed in the current draft maps:
- The boundaries of Districts 3, 5, 6, and 9 did not change. The populations of these districts fell within ±5% of 12,867 individuals.
- District 1: Ten census blocks with 859 persons were added from District 2. These additions increase the population of District 1 from 11,966 to 12,825.
- District 2: Ten census blocks with 859 persons moved to District 1. Five census blocks with 296 persons moved to District 8. These removals decrease the population of District 2 from 14,552 to 13,397.
- District 4: Ten census blocks with 1591 persons moved to District 7. These removals decrease the population from 14,576 to 12,985.
- District 7: Ten census blocks with 1591 persons were added from District 4. One census block with 78 persons was added from District 10. These additions increase the population of District 7 from 11,373 to 13,042.
- District 8: Five census blocks with 296 persons were added from District 2. These additions increase the population of District 8 from 12,143 to 12,439.
- District 10: One census block with 78 persons moved to District 7. This removal decreases the population of District 10 from 13,535 to 13,457.
The Mayor and Commission will continue to discuss the maps forwarded by the Board of Elections at the Agenda Setting Session meeting on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 before continued discussion and a vote at the Regular Session meeting on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 on a set of maps to be sent to the state for review. The Georgia General Assembly will ultimately approve a set of maps for signature by the governor.
The Geospatial Information Office has produced a redistricting data hub that includes a story map of the current proposed maps with highlighted changes, an archive of earlier map versions, details on district populations and demographics, census block data, and a public comment form.
The redistricting data hub can be accessed through www.accgov.com/redistricting.