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Fayette commissioners, BoE submit 'plans' on district voting

The Fayette County Commission, the Fayette County Board of Education and the Fayette County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had until June 25 to submit plans to federal court that would allow U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Batten to make a final determination on district voting lines that would change at-large voting to district voting in Fayette County. As before, the aim was to have a map containing a district that will have a majority of voting-age black residents. That was a request in the original lawsuit filed in 2011 by the NAACP along with several Fayette County residents.

When June 25 came, both local government entities released “plans” on the matter. For its part, the commission said it authorized its attorneys to make an immediate appeal of the judge’s order.

“The judge’s order also required the board of commissioners and the board of education ‘to submit proposed plans for the BOC and the BOE elections’ yesterday. Even though the county government is seeking immediate review of the decision on its election system, the county was required to submit a proposed plan for the commission elections. The board of commissioners filed their proposed plan with the Court yesterday,” the county’s statement said.

Though no details were provided, the plan was said to include “the majority-minority district required by the judge’s order, even though the board of commissioners believes that the district is a racial gerrymander.”

“The Board is extremely disappointed with the ruling that requires the county to create a new district voting map using race as the primary criteria. Divvying us up by race works against our efforts to unify the county,” said Commission Chairman Steve Brown.

For its part, the school board released its plan on June 25. The plan submitted to the federal court carried more detail and referenced the school board’s preference to utilize a modification of the map it proposed two years ago that gave District 5, Fayette’s northernmost district, a black voting population of approximately 48 percent.

The school board’s plan included several proposals:

-that the district lines be drawn so that no two existing incumbent commissioners or school board members reside in the same district.

-that the parties review the school board’s district map that waspre-cleared by the U.S. Dept. of Justice to determine what changes might be necessary to increase the percentage of African American population in District 5 and to arrive at an agreement in that regard.

-that the current election schedule for 2014 that includes District 4 and District 5 be allowed to occur.

-that the districts be reapportioned after the 2020 census and that those districts, or any new districts, comply with state and federal law.

As pre-cleared last year by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, the District 5 map portion of the map includes the north portion of unincorporated Fayette County, a portion of the north side of Tyrone and a portion of the north side of Fayetteville. The population in District 5 totals 20,865 and includes white residents at 42.34 percent, the black population at 9,847 residents or 47.19 percent, the all or part black population at 10,158 residents or 48.68 percent and the Hispanic population at 1,873 residents or 8.98 percent.

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