"I know of no safe
depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people
themselves. If we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their
control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from
them but to inform their discretions."
One of my favorite Jefferson quotes is above. I have used it before but it seems to again be relevant. One purpose of these columns is to "inform your discretion", which I believe is what a legislator is supposed to do.
Last week’s column discussed our state’s reapportionment, commonly called redistricting – why we do it and how we do it. This week we will look at some interesting new local districts and discuss what "floterial" districts are.
The Redistricting Committee presented its proposal earlier this week. The committee sifted through the many proposals submitted for consideration and this should be the final draft that conforms to both federal and state laws regarding the composition of House legislative districts. According to the 2010 federal census, the population of New Hampshire has grown by over 80,000 since 2000 and the average number of citizens that each representative is to represent has grown by 202 to 3291. That increase has skewed the current districts out of the allowed deviation required by federal law.
The two towns I represent, Newbury and Sutton, have both changed populations so that they can no longer be grouped together as one district. So how could that problem be rectified? It will involve redistricting adjacent towns. New London has two representatives in a district with Wilmot and Danbury. Population increases have also put that district slightly over federal tolerance.
In the new plan, Sutton will split from Newbury and pair with Warner with 1˝ representatives. Wilmot and Danbury will split from New London and combine with Andover, also with 1˝ representatives. That would leave New London and Newbury to be paired together with two representatives.
How do you get a one-half representative? We have a process in New Hampshire that allows half representatives. If Sutton and Warner, for instance, constituted District X (1˝ representatives) and Wilmot, Danbury and Andover constitute District Y (also 1˝ representatives) then the voters in those towns would vote for one representative in District X or District Y respectively. They would then also vote for a "floterial" representative. A new "floterial" district, District Z, would be created to combine all five towns selecting a "floterial" representative that would represent all five towns. Voters in all five towns would vote for a candidate from the "floterial" District Z.
One goal of the committee was to create small districts to keep representatives closer to the people. While the number of representatives remains at 400, the number of districts rises from about 100 in 2002 to 187 in 2012.
The interesting result of the combination of New London and Newbury is that there will be only two representatives while there are currently three incumbents in the two towns.
Remember, redistricting isn’t final until the governor signs it.
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Contact: ken.s+sunacom.com (replace "+" with "@")