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Charlotte Observer: CMS School Board Approves New Voting Districts

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New CMS districts. Image courtesy of the Charlotte Observer.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board approved new voting districts Tuesday, with lines moved to account for suburban growth in the past decade. The new districts will take effect in the 2013 election for six district representatives. They will play no role in the Nov. 8 election for three members chosen countywide. The board redraws its districts every 10 years, based on Census data. The sprawling northern District 1, drawn when that area was sparsely populated, had grown to almost 148,000 residents of voting age - more than 60 percent larger than the population of east/central District 4. The new districts range from almost 111,000 people 18 and older in District 4 to 120,000 in south/central District 5. District 1 drops to under 112,000. The goal was to even out population and preserve at least two majority-black districts. Three districts will be majority white and three will be majority black and Hispanic. School board elections are nonpartisan, and the board opted not to use political parties as a basis for drawing lines. But charts with the proposals show three districts will have Republican majorities and three Democratic majorities. The change means districts for school board and Mecklenburg County commissioners will no longer be identical. Board member Kaye McGarry wanted to approve districts that match those the N.C. legislature drew for county commissioners, but she got no support. The rest of the board split between two options they agreed were fairly similar. The option chosen on a 5-4 vote reassigns 27 precincts, slightly more than the 20 that would have moved in the rejected plan. But those who supported it said it does a better job of keeping neighborhoods intact. Copyright 2011 The Charlotte Observer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.