By Richard Sullins |

Lee County commissioners will begin the process of tweaking the county’s four representative districts at their next meeting on Wednesday, September 8.

On the agenda for the 6 p.m. meeting is an introduction to the topic by city and county GIS Strategic Services Director Don Kovasckitz, who is expected to present the commissioners with several options for a realignment of the voting districts that would bring the populations in each of the four districts back into balance for the next 10 years.

The county received its official Census numbers in late August, indicating that 63,285 people lived in the county in 2020. Dividing that number by four (the number of districts) provides an ideal number of 15,821.25 persons per district. By comparing that figure to the number of persons actually counted in each district during the Census, the commissioners can determine options for adjusting each district to maintain the tenet of one person, one vote among the county’s population and its representation on the commission.

Districts for the Lee County Board of Commissioners as they currently exist. With new Census data in hand, the board will begin the decennial process of redrawing the maps beginning Wednesday. Source: Lee County Government.

District 1 lies mostly within the central area of the Sanford city limits. District 2 encompasses the northern and eastern boundaries of the county, District 3 covers its southern portion, and District 4 is situated along the northern and western edges.

District 1 is the county’s only majority-minority district, meaning that most of its citizens are members of minority groups. Commissioner Robert Reives Sr. has represented that district for more than 30 years.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2013 threw out the requirement contained in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that any changes to districts had to be pre-approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, but any changes to them must still comply with its other provisions.

The county could choose any of the draft maps expected to be presented by Kovasckitz, make modifications to one of them, or draw up its own map. It is required to hold a public hearing to allow for comment on whatever maps it does consider.

The city of Sanford is required to undergo the same process and has already received its informational briefing. It has scheduled its public hearing on three potential maps of the city’s five wards for the night preceding the county commissioners’ meeting, on Tuesday, September 7, at 6 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.