Jefferson Co. Election Commission Seeks Clarification on Congressional Districts

by Jason Tolbert ([email protected]) 121 views 

In spite of House Speaker Robert Moore’s pronouncement last week that the legislation creating the new Congressional Districts is just fine, the issue is not yet settled in the minds of the Jefferson County Election Commission, the body charged with actually conducting elections and seeking voting districts.

The issue involves whether the state legislature inadvertently left two Jefferson County voting precincts (P751 and P90) in the Fourth District surrounded by portions of Jefferson County moved to the First District.  Congressman Rick Crawford first raised this issue in a letter he sent to Moore and Senate Pro Temp Paul Bookout last week.

Moore responded that the Bureau of Legislative Research reviewed the issue and determined no action was needed.  “The nomenclature does not affect the legislation,” said Moore’s statement.

However, the Jefferson County Election Commission met Thursday evening and they still have questions.

“We sent a request to the Secretary of State’s office seeking guidance on this issue,” said Will Fox, Jefferson County Election Coordinator. “If there is not a problem, great; but if there is a problem, then we need to deal with that.”

“Because the language used in those statutes appears, on its face, to create discontinuous districts, the Jefferson County Election Commission is seeking your guidance as to how to proceed in the 2012 congressional election,” requests the Commission in the letter addressed to Secretary of State Mark Martin.

The letter specifically addressed the two island precincts that Congressman Crawford raised in his letter stating, “This assignment scheme seems to create ‘islands’ of the Fourth Districts within the First District and thus makes those districts discontinuous.”

“It is doubtful that the legislature intended to create a districting plan with such ‘islands.’  However, the language of the statutes seems capable of such an interpretation, and we hereby request official guidance from your office about how to proceed in these areas in the upcoming congressional elections,” states the letter.

So it looks like this issue is still yet to be resolved.

Secretary of State spokesman Alex Reed says that the office has yet to receive a letter, but will respond when they do.