Albany commission to consider maps April 3

Four different city ward maps have been developed, all of which should pass Justice Department scrutiny, officials say.

— With the help of one of the state's foremost authorities on redistricting, city staffers have prepared four new maps of redrawn city wards to present to commissioners April 3.

Every 10 years, when the census numbers are released, people like Linda Meggers — the former redistricting guru for the Georgia General Assembly — get busy.

That's because those new census numbers often reflect population shifts across political boundaries, which throws our democratic republic form of government out-of-kilter.

"Once the counts are done, if the population shifts, you can have misrepresentation and that goes against the tenet of 'one-man, one-vote,' held by the Justice Department," Smith said. "So, you have to redraw the lines to make the districts more even in terms of population."

To get federal approval, districts have to be drawn within a 5 percent margin of error for the average population per district.

In lay terms, that means that you take Albany's population according to 2010 census — 77,434 — and divide it by the six wards that make up the political districts in the city and you get a centerline goal of 12,905 people in each district.

For Meggers, that means taking districts above that number — like Ward V which saw it's population soar above that number by more than 2,600 people — and districts like Ward II — which saw population drop below that number by more than 1,800 people — and drawing the map so that the districts equal out.

It can make for some odd-looking district lines.

"I've tried to draw the maps so that neighborhoods weren't split, and that there were some obvious dividers like Dawson Road and Slappey Boulevard," Meggers told commissioners Tuesday.

One challenge that commissioners have already requested is that the downtown sector stay a part of Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike's district, rather than be assimilated into another ward.

That request has prompted Meggers to draw two additional maps above the ones that were drawn late last year.

While commissioners did get a glimpse of the four maps Tuesday, the body won't vote on which maps to offer to their constituents through a series of public hearings until April 3.

After that point, City officials plan to hold at least two public meetings to get input from the community on the maps and any changes that should be considered.