Rock Hill won’t change school elections, voting districts

May 8, 2013 

The Rock Hill school board won’t change the way its members are elected or the boundaries of the district they represent.

Both items were on the agenda for board’s retreat Wednesday, but board members said there were other items with higher priorities – the highest being the academic performance of Rock Hill students.

Currently five members of the board represent a district, while two are elected at-large.

Board Chairman Jim Vining noted that an at-large winner could be elected without a majority of the votes cast.

The board was not interested in adding a primary election or a run-off election – either of which would winnow the number of candidates to two, with the winner needing 50 percent of the vote plus 1.

Wednesday’s meeting was a workshop, so no formal votes were taken.

Board members also said they didn’t want to ask the Legislature to adjust the boundaries of the five single-member districts. Those lines were last adjusted after the 2000 Census.

School boards in South Carolina are not required to adjust lines after the release of the Census, said Bobby Bowers, director of the state’s Office and Research and Statistics.

Board members briefly discussed adjusting the boundaries of districts 2, 4 and 5.

District 2 covers much of the western and northwestern portions of the school district and is represented by Ginny Moe. It is home to 21,765 voters.

District 4 is wedged between districts 2 and 5 in the north and central part of the school district and is represented by Jane Sharp. It has 12,017 voters.

District 5 covers most of the eastern and northeastern portions of the school district and is represented by Walter Brown. It has 15,837 voters.

The board briefly discussed changing the lines to better balance the number of people who live in each district.

Members said they saw no reason to change the two “minority majority” voting districts.

District 1 is concentrated at the center of the school district and is represented by Ann Reid. It has 8,457 voters.

District 3 lines the southern part of the school district, then slices between districts 1 and 2 on the western side and is represented by Mildred Douglas. It has 9,894 voters.

Reid and Douglas are black. Under the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, “minority majority” districts can be required in areas with a history of voter discrimination.

South Carolina is one of several Southern states covered by that portion of the act. Any changes to elections or voting districts in South Carolina must be approved by the Department of Justice before they can be enacted.

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066

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