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Should some voters get 3 times the representation of others in the County?

Should some voters get 3 times the representation of others in the County?

 

The Redistricting Committee is continuing to hammer away at solving the problem that has arisen from having such a large prison complex located here. The jobs that the prison provides are a blessing. No doubt about that. But it is creating a problem as well.

This isn’t a new problem, it existed before. But consolidating and expanding the prison to its current size of 2,440 prisoners has really made things a lot worse. The prison population now makes up over 10% of Morgan County’s total population. All located in one small block on the map. Pretending that those inmates are actually constituents of the Commissioners from that district is a joke.

If you ask any of these men where they are from they aren’t going to say “Morgan County” or “Wartburg”. Yet we are forced to include them in our count when setting up voting districts.

What we should have are 3,667 citizens in each district. These people would be electing 3 Commissioners to represent them, or 1,222 Citizens per Commissioner.

All except the prison District. In that District 2/3rds of the population are inmates. Who cannot vote. In that district you will have only 409 Citizens per Commissioner.  That is giving them a 3 to 1 advantage in voting power over the 82% of the citizens in the rest of Morgan County. That is hardly the one man one vote ideal we were taught in school.

The only way to reduce this discrepancy, within the law as it stands now, is to reduce the size of County Commission. With 9 Commissioners we could reduce this discrepancy to a 1.5 to 1 advantage. Still not right, but one heck of a lot better than the 3 to 1 advantage.

The County Commission did not create this problem. The State of Tennessee did. And the State of Tennessee could fix it by allowing us to ignore the prison population when drawing up our district lines. I would ask anyone who reads this to call your representatives in Nashville and urge them to work on and pass such legislation. Till that happens however we must deal with things as they are.

The County Commission has already taken a vote to not even consider reducing their numbers. That motion passed 17 to 1. In all fairness to the members of County Commission, I do not believe that many of them were even aware of this huge disparity in voting power that keeping 18 commissioners would create when this vote was taken. Any change would not go into effect until the next election. Three years from now.

It is my sincere hope that the next time they vote on this, knowing what we know now, it will be to give their constituents more equal representation in the county. Not to try and protect their jobs and their own little piece of turf.