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Fort Pierce Commissioners Approve Revised Voting District Map

Fort Pierce District Maps.jpg
Image courtesy City of Fort Pierce
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Florida ACLU: "We have not taken a formal position on the passed map or any others considered during this process, we are glad to see the city commission approved a new map that updates districts' lines in accord with constitutional mandates."

Fort Pierce - Monday May 2, 2022: The Fort Pierce City Commission Monday night voted to approve a revised voting district map, despite some concerns raised by the ACLU of Florida over the different population sizes in the 2 districts. The Commissioners concluded that maintaining the integrity of the neighborhoods outweighed equalizing the population numbers. They chose Alternative District Map 1.

As recommended by the Justice Department, the dominate guideline in re-drawing the City’s 2 voting Districts should be to ensure that the population in each is substantially the same. “Districts must be substantially equal in population, generally plus or minus 5%, and so we were presented with some information that we were outside the variance that’s acceptable," said Commissioner Curtis Johnson Jr.

The Florida ACLU took note of the un-even population numbers in the 2 district maps under consideration and sent a letter to the Mayor and the commissioners expressing concern that the consultant was not using accurate census numbers, and that the variation in population between District 1 and 2 was greater than 5%.

Some adjustments in the population distribution were made in the new district map adopted Monday night, said Johnson. “There was a slight addition to district 1 because more people live in District 2," he said. But beyond population balance, there are other guidelines, such as keeping neighborhoods together and district integrity.

Those factors were decisive with the Commissioners who voted 4 to 1 to approve Alternative District Map 1. "We accepted and moved forth on what I saw to be a clear delineation by 13th Street, and cut off by Virginia. And so it made for really easy understanding," said Johnson. "The other proposal would have one neighbor on one side of the street being in one District and another in that same sub-division being in another district.”

The only commissioner to vote against the new district map was Commissioner Arnold Gaines. “My no vote was because when it came down to the numbers and the percentages," said Commissioner Gaines, "I liked those numbers and percentages (in alternative map 2) better than I did alternative 1.”

The decision on District boundaries is important because the City of Fort Pierce remains under a federal consent decree stemming for a civil rights lawsuit 30 years ago which created two voting districts. District 1 which is substantially black, and District 2 mostly white. “This decision was based on keeping intact that consent decree and the integrity of District 1 and District 2 largely remain in effect," said Johnson.

In response to a request for comment, Florida ACLU staff attorney Nicholas Warren emailed the following statement to WQCS - "We were fully confident that the city would comply with all the relevant legal requirements. Although we have not taken a formal position on the passed map or any others considered during this process, we are glad to see the city commission approved a new map that updates districts' lines in accord with constitutional mandates."

Fort Pierce District Maps.jpg