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Census results may impact Ahoskie’s voting districts

AHOSKIE – Town officials here will soon learn if the results of the 2020 Census will lead to a realignment of Ahoskie’s two voting districts.

Town Attorney Buddy Jones told members of the Ahoskie Town Council at their meeting here Tuesday that those results may or may not necessitate a change in how Ward A and Ward B are configured.

“We have to comply with all the federal and state laws in terms of equal representation [on the Ahoskie Town Council],” Jones said. “The 2020 Census might impact that.”

The Ahoskie Town Council is comprised of two members each from Ward A and Ward B along with one member elected at-large. The mayor is also elected at-large.

Jones said there must be more than a 10 percent change in the population between the two Wards to cause a change in the map outlining those voting districts.

“If it’s less than 10 percent there will be no changes,” he stated.

Jones suggested that if there is a need to redraw the map, the town needs to hire a specialist that deals in that type of work.

“We need to make sure if we have to redraw the district lines that it’s done right,” Jones stressed.

Town Manager Kerry McDuffie noted that the 2020 Census results are expected to be released Aug. 16.

“We should know something next week; hopefully there be less than a 10 percent change in the population between the two districts and we don’t have to redraw the lines,” McDuffie stated. “If we do have to redraw the lines, we have a very tight window to complete that. They have to be redrawn and approved by the [U.S.] Department of Justice by Dec. 17.”

In an effort to get ahead of a potential issue, the Town Council approved the hiring of a specialist if needed.

“It might come down to where these specialists are overwhelmed with similar requests from other towns or cities that may face the same thing,” Jones said. “We need to get in a request as early as possible if our numbers show we need to redraw our districts.”

Jones added that he and McDuffie would select a specialist as needed.

Due to legislation enacted June 28 by the North Carolina General Assembly, the filing period for municipalities that elect its leaders by districts or wards – such as Ahoskie – is delayed until later this year. That was necessitated by the fact that because of the Census, those municipalities may have to redistrict to correct population imbalances.

The election for those seats on the Ahoskie Town Council is expected to take place on March 8, 2022.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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