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Census numbers spark redistricting in Bell County

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TWC News: Census numbers spark redistricting in Bell County
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The 2010 census numbers for Bell County show a 30 percent population increase from 2000. It’s a big boost that requires a new balance within the county’s four districts.

Baylor Law Professor David Guinn was hired to help the county begin the redistricting process. He and several others will work to make sure county commissioners each represent an equal amount of residents throughout the area.

"Our commissioner's court is required by the United States Supreme Court to balance the population under the principle of one person, one vote," Guinn said. "With all of this tremendous growth, we had one district that was way overloaded and one that was way short."

Tim Brown represents precinct two of Bell County, which includes all of Harker Heights and part of Killeen. He said while redistricting is important, it won’t have a huge impact on residents of the county.

"They'll be some folks in specific voter precincts that will wind up in another district, but it won't be a major change that will affect a huge geographic area of the county," he said.

However, population isn't the only factor taken into consideration during redistricting.

"In making these changes, we must protect, our minority citizens and their interest, and their ability to elect their preferred candidates," Guinn said.

The final map of the county with newly-drawn lines will be up submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice for clearance.

According to Bell County officials, a citizen’s advisory committee of up to 12 residents will be chosen to look over the draft.

"Redistricting is so important because this deals with your voice in democracy," Guinn said.

Ultimately, it will be up to the county commissioners to adopt the new plan.

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