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Fort Bend County begins census-mandated redistricting

Your voting precinct could change, but not until next year.This Thursday, Fort Bend County will hold a special meeting of the commissioner’s court at 3 p.m. on redistricting the county’s political boundaries. It will be for receiving information, evaluating demographics and possibly taking action along these lines.

An initial assessment of Fort Bend County has been provided to the county by Austin law firm Allison, Bass & Associates, LLP, which is assisting with measures to comply with federal law following the 2010 Census. Fort Bend County, second fastest growing and tenth largest county in Texas, underwent 65.1 percent growth between 2000 and 2010, and it is now at 585,375.

County Judge Bob Hebert had announced the likelihood of redistricting earlier this year. Now with the initial assessment based on population data, it substantiates the county’s legal obligation to redistrict the Commissioners Court precincts this year. Following additional required steps, including the review of the county’s plan by the Department of Justice, a final adopted plan will be in place for the 2012 elections and those that will follow.

Regarding the size of the precincts using a formula, the total maximum population deviation is 71.96 percent between the current largest and smallest precincts in Fort Bend County.

It is a far cry from 10 percent, the ceiling determining the legal obligation to redraw political boundaries. So, there’s a need to redistrict the county’s political boundaries and it’s to achieve what is called the “one-person-one-vote” numerical balance between the four commissioners court precincts. The changes will serve to comply with the Voting Rights Act and applicable state and federal laws.

State law does not require county election precincts to conform to those election precincts of independent school districts, but they may need to be factored into the redistricting process since some school board members are elected from single member districts. Cities in Fort Bend County which use single member election precincts for city council positions may also be considered in the determination of the county election precincts.

As this process continues, Fort Bend County Commissioners Court will be holding public meetings to review and consider a final plan for the mandated redistricting.

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