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County commissioners considering adding precinct

Forsyth County commissioners are considering potential redistricting for commissioners districts within the county because of population changes shown in the 2020 Census. The resolution currently being considered for a vote on Oct. 21 would add Precinct 905 to commissioners District A. Any potential changes would only effect the districts for county commissioners in Forsyth County and not any other elected officials. 

Precinct 905 is among the four options staff presented to the commissioners for precincts they could add to District A if they choose to bring the districts closer to their ideal sizes, with the other options being Precincts 033, 122 and 601.

A presentation was given to county commissioners on their options on Sept. 9 and repeated on Sept. 16 and 23. An informational meeting was held for the public on Oct. 5 with tentative plans for the commissioners to vote on adding Precinct 905 during their Oct. 21 meeting.

Precinct 905, with a population of 4,961, includes the northern half of Wake Forest’s campus and runs along the east side of Reynolda Road and the west side of University Parkway and Bethabara Road. Its addition would make District A  0.7% over the ideal size.

Precincts must be adjacent to a district to be added to it.  Precincts 601 and 905 primarily consist of Qualified Census Tracts, which are lower income areas. Most precincts in District A contain Qualified Census Tracts.

Pursuant to the U.S. Constitution and State law, each district should ideally have a population that is proportionate to the number of commissioners elected from that district. Ideally, District A, which elects two commissioners and is primarily in East Winston, should have one-third of the county’s population, while District B, which elects four commissioners and covers the rest of the county, should have two-thirds of the population. The one at-large commissioner seat does not factor into the formula.

The 2020 Census found that the total county population was 382,590, with 123,420 residents in District A and 259,170 residents in District B. That means there’s 61,710 people per commissioner for District A and 64,793 per commissioner for District B. 

Ideally, there would be 63,765 constituents for each of the six commissioners elected from a district. The ideal population for District A is 127,530 and for District B it is 255,060.

Local governments are required to redistrict if a district is 5 percent larger or smaller than the ideal size. Because District B is 1.6% larger than the ideal size and District A is 3.2% smaller, the commissioners have the option of adding a precinct to District A or keeping the current districts.

Forsyth County’s two Board of Commissioners districts  were created in 1989, when the North Carolina General Assembly passed a local act establishing the electoral districts. County commissioners have the ability to determine the precincts in each district. They do not have the authority to create additional districts, eliminate the current ones, or change the number of commissioners elected from each district.