Apportionment Map and Demographics
The charter amendment proposes 3 council members elected at-large, and 10 members elected by district. Per the charter’s stipulations:
“At the time of apportionment, the population of all council districts shall be as nearly equal as practicable and shall not vary from equality by more than five per cent. Council districts shall be as compact as practical, composed of contiguous territory, and comply with applicable federal and state laws. Waterways may divide a district and land on either side may be deemed contiguous. District boundaries lines shall seek to maintain intact recognized neighborhoods where practical and where not inconsistent with the above criteria. No person’s residence may be a consideration during the apportionment process.” (Sec. 6 – 1)
In summary, when considering districts, the first criteria is for districts to have near equal populations from the most recent census. Thus each district must be within 5% of 78,703 people (i.e., 78,703 is 10% of the city’s 2010 census population), as below. The most applicable federal law is found in Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which offers minority group protections on the basis of “race, color or membership in a [specified] language minority group.” Through case law, when there is a a covered group that is sufficient in number and geographic concentration, at least one majority-minority district must be drawn. Based on Columbus demographic and housing patterns, African Americans (Blacks) appear to be the only population protected in this manner, since there are no other federally-protected groups large enough in number and concentration to form majority districts. The Apportionment Plan creates two majority Black districts (by voting age population) — represented as District 2 and District 3.
District Nominating Entities Fill Mid-Term Vacancies in Council Districts
Finally, the Apportionment Plan identifies the “District Nominating Entities” — those entities with a right to nominate candidates to fill vacated city council seats, and the “Weighting Factors” for each.
“District vacancies in the council shall be appointed by the council subject to the requirement that all appointees for district positions shall have been nominated by “District Nominating Entities” as defined below, through the following nominating process:
- District Nominating Entities shall be designated by the council for each council district, at the time of each apportionment in the apportionment plan, or as otherwise specified herein. District Nominating Entities shall be previously-established resident-based organizations with clearly defined geographic boundaries, whose members have: 1) a cognizable interest in local civic affairs, and 2) the capacity to nominate people qualified to serve for the unexpired term for vacated seats on council for any council district which has territory within that District Nominating Entity’s defined geographic boundaries.
- Development of Nomination Plans. The initial District Nominating Entities are the Neighborhood Area Commissions established by Chapter 3111 of the Columbus City Code, as listed by Council District in the Apportionment Plan attached as Exhibit A. Within 90 days of enactment or within 90 days of subsequent designation, each District Nominating Entity shall develop a process acceptable to the city attorney, which shall be filed with the clerk and which shall remain in effect until amended by the nominating entity at a duly-noticed public meeting with such amendment subsequently filed with the clerk, by which that nominating entity will evaluate and nominate candidates seeking to fill any vacated district positions for which that entity is eligible to nominate a candidate. Such a nomination process must result in the submission of a resolution of nomination, along with a tally of the number of votes cast in favor of the nominee of resolution to the clerk.
- Nominations and Appointments. Subsequent to receiving formal notice of a vacancy in a council district and prior to any date noted by the clerk, each nominating entity with privilege to do so may submit a voted resolution of nomination, evidencing its nominee candidate to serve as member of council for a vacated council district. The clerk shall receive such nominations, assigning each nominee a score of one, and then multiplying each nomination (one from each nominating entity) by the Weighting Factor for each nominating entity. The nominee with the highest sum of weighted nomination scorings shall then be appointed by the council.
- In the event there is a tie in weighted scoring between nominees, the clerk shall then tally the number of votes cast within each nominating entity for each nominee, and of those the nominee having the highest number of votes shall be designated the district nominee. In the event there is a tie in the number of votes, the council may select from the two tied nominees and make an appointment.
- In the event a district has no nominating entities, or if no District Nominating Entity submits a resolution of nomination by the deadline noticed by the clerk, the council may make the appointment so long as the appointee meets all the qualifications for the office, with such appointee being disqualified for the ballot at the ensuing municipal election pursuant to Section 6(B).
- District Nominating Entity Weighting Factor Calculations. Using the most recent decennial census population figures, the council shall cause to be determined the number of people of each nominating entity who reside within the boundaries of each council district, if any. The number of nominating entity residents within a district, divided by the total population of a district, then multiplied by one hundred, shall become the “Weighting Factor” for the purposes of making appointments to vacated council seat within any district. In no event shall the sum of the weighting factors for a council district exceed the integer one hundred.
- The initial nominating entities and Weighting Factors are as designated in the Apportionment Plan attached to this amendment. Within 180 days of enactment of this amendment, the council shall review, evaluate, and certify such alternate or additional non-overlapping territories of nominating entities as it deems appropriate for each council district, and simultaneously adopt by ordinance the Weighting Factors for each nominating entity for each applicable council district. Thereafter, the council with notice and due process may subsequently by ordinance amend the list of District Nominating Entities for just cause and in the public interest.” (Sec. 5-1-A)
The following table shows each Neighborhood Area Commission’s weighting factor within each District. (Note District 1 does not have any District Nominating Entities)