County will take comments on redistricting proposal during hearing on Thursday

Courtesy of Orleans County Legislature: This map shows a plan for four of the districts for the Orleans County Legislature.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 February 2023 at 9:19 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature will take comments during a public hearing at 6 p.m. on Thursday for a redistricting proposal for four legislative districts in the Legislature.

The hearing will be in the legislative chambers at the County Office Building, 14016 Route 31 West in Albion.

The seven-member Legislature has four legislative districts, each with about 10,000 people, and then three at-large or countywide positions.

The four legislative districts are allowed to have up to 5 percent variance in population. But the current districts, without changes, are at 11.7 percent deviation, which is out of compliance with state and federal law.

The county worked with Skyline Demographic Consultants, Inc. to bring the four legislative districts within an acceptably close size.

The county is looking to add part of western Murray to a district that currently is the towns of Albion and Gaines. That gives the Albion-Gaines (District 3) more people and also takes away from District 4 that includes Murray, Kendall and Carlton. The Murray section going to District 3 includes 522 people from Murray’s election district 5.

During the last redistricting about a decade ago, the county added a small part of Shelby to District 2 that included Yates and Ridgeway. This time the county is looking to move more of that area back into District 1, the Shelby-Barre-Clarendon district. That represents a shift of 418 people, said Jack Welch, the county’s chief administrative officer.

County officials are pushing to get the boundaries set for the four districts because it is the start of the election cycle with candidates interviewing political party leaders for endorsements. Candidates also will need to get petitions signed to get on the ballot for a primary and the general election.

The county’s population in the 2020 census was 40,343 people. That census block population shows 1,456 incarcerated people at two state prisons in Albion. Those people are not included the county redistricting process for the legislative districts.

County officials are taking out the 1,456 population for the prisons. That number has then been subtracted from the 40,343 in the census and with another small adjustment the total for the county is 38,891 for redistricting. Dividing that by the four legislative districts puts the ideal district at 9,745.

The redistricting changes would move 940 people into different districts, which is 2.4 percent of the population, said Jack Welch, the county chief administrative officer.

State law allows a 5 percent deviation. A plus or minus of 2.5 percent from the ideal would be 245 people.

The redistricting proposal puts the deviation at a maximum of 4.2 percent, with District 1 down by 2.02 percent from the ideal and District 3 at 2.22 percent over the ideal.

  • District 1 with most of Shelby, all of Barre and Clarendon would be 9,548 people, or down 197 people or 2.02 percent from the ideal.
  • District 2 with Yates, Ridgeway and small portion of Shelby would be 9,725, or 20 fewer than the ideal or under by 0.21 percent.
  • District 3 with Gaines, Albion and part of western Murray would be a population of 9,961, which is over the ideal by 2.22 percent or 216 people.
  • District 4 with Carlton, Kendall and most of Murray would total 9,747 people, only 2 more than the ideal or off by just 0.02 percent.