Redistricting job to go on city ballot

The Laconia Daily Sun
Published: 9/22/2021 5:10:33 PM

Redistricting of the city’s six wards will be in the hands of the City Council if voters approve a referendum which will be on the ballot in November.

The council voted 6-0 last Monday to place the question on the ballot after a brief public hearing. No one spoke in opposition to the proposal, though two members of the public had questions about the process.

The ward lines need to be reviewed — and usually redrawn — every 10 years to reflect the results of the federal census. Normally those changes would be approved by the voters. But because of the delay in the release of census data due to COVID-19 the detailed information about the distribution of the city’s population will not be available in time to meet the various deadlines which need to be met in time to put the redistricting plan on the November ballot.

The alternative to having the council approve the new ward boundaries would be to hold a special election in January which would result in an additional expense to the city, City Manager Scott Myers explained.

Myers said the plan is to inform the public about the specific changes to ward boundaries as soon as possible, possibly before the municipal election which takes place Nov. 2.

If voters pass the referendum the redistricting plan would need to be approved by a two-thirds-majority vote of the council.

Myers said the Legislature needs to have the city’s new ward boundaries when it takes up redistricting plans for state House and Senate seats next year.

Raw 2020 Census numbers show that population by ward varies, with the biggest variance being between 3,069 people living in Ward 6, and 2,429 in Ward 3. Myers said the aim is to get the population of each ward to as close to 2,800 people as possible.

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