A slight increase in the population of Polk County over the last 10 years means there will be some small tweaks to the county commission and school board district maps this year.
Just as the Georgia General Assembly went through state redistricting last November following data from the 202 U.S. Census, local governments must do the same in regards to the districts for municipal and school board elections.
“With the 2020 census being done, state law requires us to examine the district maps and the boundary lines that make up the districts,” Polk School District Board of Education attorney Rob Monroe said. “And we have to determine whether or not the districts are still an equivalent size and whether or not we’re still adhering to the concept of one person, one vote that the Constitution requires.”
The state’s Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office made recommendations for the new districts based on data from the once-every-10-year census. Board members then reviewed those changes and approved the new maps to be sent to the county elections office.
Local state legislators — Sen. Jason Anavitarte in Polk County’s case — must sponsor the new maps in the General Assembly to be passed and approved during the regular session, which began Monday and runs through March 31.
With Georgia’s primary election scheduled for May 24, that will create a tight window for Polk County Elections Director Brande Coggins to go through the new district maps and make sure any voters who have had their districts changed are notified before going to vote.
Coggins said there are not a large number of voters who will be affected by changes after her analysis of the new district maps. The biggest change that will come first is to the school board districts, which are separated by voters.
While county commission candidates must live in the district they represent, the seats are voted on at large by county voters. The same is true for Cedartown City Commission seats.
The only other governing body where voters are separated by districts is Rockmart City Council, which, like Cedartown, has some extra time to figure out their redistricting since neither is scheduled to hold any board elections until 2023.
The reapportionment office recommended slightly enlarging the size of Polk County Commission District 2 and decreasing the sizes of Districts 1 and 3, according to county officials.
Commissioners whose seats are up for election this year are Gary Martin (District 1), Linda Liles (District 2) and Hal Floyd (District 3).
School board members whose seats are up for election this year are Britt Madden (District 1), Bernard Morgan (District 2), Vicki Mayes (District 4), and Tommy Sanders (District 7).
District 1 includes all of Polk County west of Cedartown, including Prior Station, Esom Hill and Blooming Grove communities. District 2 is most of downtown Cedartown and south Cedartown. District 4 is Youngs Grove, the northwest portion of the Antioch community and eastern Lake Creek. District 7 includes the northeast corner of the county, including North Rockmart and Aragon.
Qualifying for all posts will be held March 7-11.
The deadline for county election offices to turn in changes to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office is Feb. 18. Once the state has the new voting districts, any voters affected will be sent new voter registration cards.
Voters can also check their status after Feb. 18 on the Georgia My Voter Page online.