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Friday, June 15, 2012 - 8:30am

Judge Weighs Augusta Redistricting Input

After a contentious local attempt to redraw Augusta’s county commission and school board districts, a federal judge’s plan is getting few complaints.

The U.S. district judge is now considering comments about his proposed district maps for Richmond County. Residents sued after Augusta officials could not agree in the once-a decade redistricting. Judge J. Randall Hall released his maps last week for comment.

Written responses were due Wednesday evening.

The county commission, school board and citizens’ attorneys submitted few comments. But all asked the court to reunite a neighborhood that was split into two voting districts during the 2002 redistricting.

“It’s just a neighborhood that’s been together over the years with common interests and they want to be united in the same district voting for the school board and county commission,” said Laughlin McDonald, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys. “It shouldn’t be a big deal.”

McDonald said the maps equally distribute population and preserve minority voting power.

“That’s one of the big concerns that our plaintiffs have, who are racial minorities. They want to make sure that whatever plan is adopted is not retrogressive as far as minority voting strength is concerned, and I’m sure the court is obviously very concerned about that too,” McDonald said.

The county commission and school board also asked for Fort Gordon to be included in three districts instead of two since it has a fairly large military population but not many actual voters.

The judge must also decide when to open qualifying for the nonpartisan local elections coming in November. The elections board suggested August 6-8.

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