If you really got in there and analyzed how to equalize Chesterfield’s magisterial districts, it might be easier to do than you imagine. Every 10 years, after the census, it is mandatory that local magisterial districts be balanced. That is, each district has to have about the same number of people – within 5 percent according to Federal law. The balance act takes place by voting precinct because it’s much more difficult to split up voting precincts and find new voting places.
Robert Olsen said he took a stab at redistricting and he says it took him only six hours. But, as he puts it, his criteria might not be the same as some county supervisors.
“What bothers me,” said Olsen. “Are some of the phrases being bantered about, such as: ‘I want to move this precinct, they are not my kind of voters;’ ‘I want to lose that precinct, I want to get rid of the apartment people, they are not my kind of voters,’ and ‘I’m not in favor of a study committee because half the members of a committee would be in favor of the change and half not.’
Olsen’s plan comes within less than 1 percent variance in districts. Currently Bermuda has 66,596 residents; Clover Hill has 55,546; Dale comes in at 60,211; Matoaca District has the most at 75,126 and Midlothian is below the average at 58,747 residents. The Board of Supervisor must approve a redistricting plan by August that comes close to an average of 63,247.
“I have presented plans for redistricting in 1991, 2001 and now 2011,” Olsen said. “My reason at this particular time was to preempt the county. Not wait for the county plan.
Olsen said he has presented his plan to the county but has yet to get a response and at this point it remains in the hands of the county attorney’s office.
“In the past, the county has had public meetings to present the plan,” Olsen said. “But the public has had no real input on how the plan was [or would be] put together. Now, at least the public can see more than one plan, and judge for themselves what is possible. I believe my plan is the best nonpartisan plan with no regard for the desires of political parties.”
Olsen’s plan takes voting precincts that are geographically adjacent to one another and seem to be logical expansions or contractions of each district. Olsen says he also kept in mind the diversity required for each district. A map and a spreadsheet of the plan are available by clicking the preceeding links.
According to Olsen, in the Bermuda District, the Bellwood and Drewry’s Bluff voting precincts would move to the Dale District and the Dale District would shift two of its precincts, Nash and Salem Church, to Bermuda. Remember there would be a less than 1 percent net gain or loss from any district.
Clover Hill Magisterial District, because it’s a district that has lost population since 2001, will gain the South Manchester and Evergreen precinct from the Matoaca District, but, for balance and geography, lose the Shenandoah precinct to the Midlothian District.
Dale District, as mentioned, would lose the Nash and Salem precinct and gain the Bellwood and Drewry’s Bluff Districts.
Matoaca District, as mentioned would lose S. Manchester and Evergreen precincts, a total of 11,746 residents, to Clover Hill.
And finally, according to Olsen’s plan, the Midlothian District would get the Shenandoah precinct from Clover Hill.
Olsen said voters need to know what candidates to follow since many have declared already, but in fact some candidates may be thinking they’re running in one district but could be shifted to another.
“No consideration is given for possible supervisor candidates, because candidates can still file up till August, and we can’t wait that long,” Olsen said. “Any that have filed already should have waited until redistricting was finished, unless their intent was to try and force some precinct to stay in certain districts.”
Since no county officials or supervisors were contacted to contribute to this article, it was placed on the forum page. This piece represents only one opinion of how redistricting should proceed.