Census numbers low; appeal in the works
Town Attorney Anthony Fox allayed the concerns of several council members during the Weddington Town County meeting Monday, March 14, assuring them the results of the 2010 Federal Census did not dictate the need for voter redistricting on the part of the town.
Under GS 160A-23.1(a), the North Carolina General Assembly must redraw all of the state’s voting districts to reflect any population changes identified during a constitutionally mandated census conducted every 10 years.
“The language is a bit confusing,” Fox admitted when discussing the statute, but explained to the council he is in agreement with Bob Joyce of the Institute of Government, who argued the town was in full compliance with the “One Man One Vote” ruling that came out of 1962’s Baker v. Barr.
In that case, a judge ruled in favor of Shelby County, Tenn., resident Charles Baker, who argued the Tennessee legislature had violated state constitution in not redrawing legislative districts since 1901. Baker also asserted state demographics had changed to the point where they diluted his vote.
According to a memo written by Fox to council, towns like Weddington fall into the category of “jurisdictions that use residency districts.” These towns do not have to redraw their districts even if new numbers show imbalance, Fox references Joyce saying, because there is no one-person-one-vote equal protection violation. In other words, “Since Weddington residents can vote in an election,” Fox explained, “a change in redistricting would not lessen their vote.”
Town sees drop in residents
While the 2010 census does not appear to require redistricting, and no one’s vote is in danger of dilution, the head count figures are puzzling for town leaders. “We’ve dropped down by almost 2,500 residents,” Mayor Nancy Anderson said.
Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Barry expressed concern that census takers were taking Weddington zip codes and inadvertently attributing them to Waxhaw. “The 28104 and 28173 zip codes are probably those in question,” Council Member Werner Thomisser added.
Fox recommended the town staff contact the appropriate census person to repeal these figures after identifying any discrepancy. Town Administrator Amy McCollum agreed to investigate the appeal process.