Durham City Council to consider ward redistricting proposals, won't affect Duke campus ward assignments

For the first time since 2011, the Durham City Council will consider redistricting the city’s three wards. 

Durham is required to redistrict following the U.S. Census because data shows the current maps unevenly distribute the City of Durham's population between the three wards. Two redistricting options have been proposed to even out this distribution, according to the Durham City Council’s website

Redistricting will impact who is eligible to run for the council’s three ward seats.

In Durham, the ward system functions as a mechanism for electing three out of the seven council members. One representative is elected from each ward, and the candidates for each ward seat must be residents of the district that they seek to represent. Three council members are elected at-large, and alongside the mayor, make a 7-seat city council.  

Durham’s population is currently 283,506, which makes the ideal ward size 94,502 residents, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

Under the current ward boundaries, Ward 1, which comprises most of north and central Durham, has 89,169 residents, which is 5.64% below the ideal size. Ward 2, which is made up of southeast Durham, has 107,255 residents, which is 13.49% above the ideal size, and Ward 3, which comprises west Durham, has 87,082 residents, which is 7.85% below the ideal size. 

Federal and state guidelines require the population of each ward to be within 5% of the ideal district size. Currently all three wards are out of compliance. 

Under the counsel of the city manager and city attorney, Durham’s Technology Solutions Department GIS Services team created two redistricting options. 

The first redistricting option distributes Durham’s population most evenly, with the three wards’ populations at 93,530 residents, 96,650 residents and 93,326 residents, respectively. 

The second redistricting option distributes Durham’s population less evenly according to current data, but accounts for expected population growth and possible future annexations in the southern and eastern parts of the city limits. It would put ward populations at 99,094 residents, 91,086 residents and 93,326 residents, respectively.

Legal guidelines require that each of Durham’s 57 voting precincts be fully contained within one of the three wards and no precincts may be split by ward boundaries. The proposed redistricting options will change the ward assignments of 10 voting precincts. 

Other than legal requirements for redistricting, city staff have prioritized five “widely accepted criteria” to develop the proposed maps. These criteria include contiguity of voting precincts, compactness with a geographical area, preservation of communities of interest, avoid pairing incumbents and consideration of future city growth. 

Redistricting won't affect Duke's wards assignments

East Campus and West Campus are currently located in different voting precincts and different city wards. East Campus is located in Precinct 2 and Ward 1, while West Campus is located in Precinct 5 and Ward 3. 

Neither of the proposed redistricting options would change the ward assignments of either campus.

The proposed redistricting options will be presented to the city council at the Nov. 10 work session and then voted on at the Nov. 21 city council meeting

Durham residents can also share their feedback on the proposed redistricting options any time before Nov. 21 using an online form.

Holly Keegan profile
Holly Keegan | Senior Editor

Holly Keegan is a Trinity junior and a senior editor of The Chronicle's 120th volume.


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