Granville County, NC gets another chance to avoid prison gerrymandering

by Leah Sakala, March 12, 2013  

A few months ago, we wrote a post about why the new county commissioner districts in Granville County, North Carolina are such a clear example of how prison gerrymandering hurts local government democracy. But now, fortunately, the county has second chance to fix the problem.

The opportunity arose when county officials realized that the 2010 Census data they relied on to draw their new districts had counted a federal prison that straddles the county line entirely within Granville County by mistake. Now that county officials have realized the Census Bureau’s error, they have decided to redraw the commissioner and school board districts with population data that does not include the portion of the prison population that is outside Granville County. But there’s an even simpler solution that leads to a fairer result: they can end prison gerrymandering by simply removing the prison population altogether from the data used to draw the revised districts.

Under the county’s current plan, some Granville County residents get twice as much political influence as others simply because they live near the prison. By removing the prison population for redistricting purposes, Granville can draw fair districts that contain equal numbers of actual residents. Granville should take this opportunity to join the more than 200 other local governments across the country that have decided to prevent prison counts from unfairly skewing local democracy.

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