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Pell City voting map approved

PELL CITY - Mayor Bill Hereford announced that the U.S. Department of Justice approved the city's new voting district map.

"It's a done deal, and we are happy," Hereford said.

The proposed district map was approved by the council in November by a 5-1 vote.

Councilwoman Dot Wood voted against the proposed map after one resident objected to the removal of certain areas from District 2 that had always been there on the district map.

Wood said in November she voted against the proposed map because the DOJ could reject the map proposal because of the large deviation in district populations, and the map could come back to the council, which would have limited time to correct.

Brett Isom, with the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham and who drafted three voting district proposals for the city council, said the map approved by DOJ varied in district populations of more than the recommended 5 percent deviation.

Isom told the council last year that his first two proposed redistricting maps remained within the 5 percent population deviation for each district, which is recommended by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Last year, Isom told the council that ideally each district should have about 2,539 people, give or take a 5 percent deviation.

The map approved by DOJ has 2,500 people in District 1, 2,268 people in District 2, 2,666 people in District 3, 2,913 people in District 4 and District 5 has 2,348 people.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the previous District 4 saw the largest increase in population and had 3,673 people living inside that district.

In Isom's first two district map proposals, the District 4 population count was reduced to 2,664-2,696 people.

With the map now signed off by DOJ, four of the five districts vary more in populations more than the first two proposals Isom offered to the council last year.

District 4 has a plus 14.7 percent deviation in population compared to the other four districts in the newly approved map. District 2 has a minus 10.7 percent deviation, District 5 has a minus 7.5 percent deviation, District 3 has a plus 5 percent deviation and District 1 has a minus 1.5 percent population deviation.

The 2010 U.S. Census showed that the minority district dropped below the 50 percent mark since the last redistricting process 10 years ago, and only about 47 percent of District 2 represented the minority vote.

District 2 remains a minority district with the newly approved map.

The new voting district map is available at city hall.

Via St. Clair Times