State law and federal courts require that the four Town Council electoral districts contain “roughly equivalent” populations. The equal protection clause of the United States Constitution requires that where electoral districts are used, they must be substantially equal in population so that each person's vote counts about the same.
Municipalities in North Carolina are legally required to consider redistricting every 10 years, following the U.S. decennial census, to maintain a population balance among electoral districts.
On May 26, 2011, the Cary Town Council adopted new council districts to balance the population in each district following the 2010 Census. Town of Cary citizens affected by the mandated redistricting efforts received notification of their new voting precinct. The new Council districts were put in place during the Oct. 11, 2011 municipal election.
Keep major neighborhoods/developments in single Council districts
Use existing district boundaries as the starting point for making changes to Council district boundaries
Consider projected growth when establishing district boundaries
- District boundaries should follow major geographic features such as roads
The Cary Town Council also considered whether there should be one or two Council representatives for the older parts of Cary within the Maynard Loop, and whether redistricting should provide an opportunity for more than one Council representative in the developing western areas of Cary.
North Carolina General Statute 160A-23.1 requires city councils to review the Census results to "determine whether it would be lawful to hold the next election without revising districts to correct population imbalances." Prior to 2011, Cary's last redistricting was performed in 2001 following receipt of the official 2000 population count from the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
Although municipalities are only required to redistrict after a Federal census, they can voluntarily redistrict more often under two circumstances - after annexation or after performing a special census.
Cary Council districts were originally adopted in 1975. To keep pace with Cary's changing population, Cary has voluntarily redistricted numerous times. Redistricting has occurred in the years: 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991, 2001, and 2011.
Legal Guidelines for Redistricting
The guidelines below are derived from State statutes, court rulings, and the Wake County Board of Elections. (Chapter 160A-23 of the N.C. General Statutes has more information on redistricting for cities and towns.)
District size by population - Council districts must be balanced based on district population, not on the number of registered voters. Redistricting for Council districts should be based on an official enumeration of population, such as a special census or Decennial Census, and must be based on the most recent census
Size of districts - State law and federal courts require that the four Town Council districts contain roughly equivalent populations
Difference between district sizes - The population difference between the smallest and largest districts must be less than 10% of the ideal district size (where the ideal district size equals the total town population divided by the number of districts)
District boundaries and precincts - Council district boundaries should generally not split precinct boundaries, in order to lessen voter confusion and conserve government resources. Boundaries of districts should follow some established line of demarcation such as roads
Residency requirement - Council members must reside within the district from which they are elected
10% Rule - In determining whether there is substantial equality in population among the districts, courts routinely apply a "10% rule of thumb." The largest and smallest districts should not, when added together, vary by more than 10% from the ideal, or average, district size
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