Black voters are majority in District 6

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A demographic shift in the making for most of this decade has finally come to pass in District 6.

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Jack Padgett Jr.  Special
Special
Jack Padgett Jr.

Black registered voters now comprise the majority in the district at nearly 48 percent, according to the latest Richmond County Board of Elections statistics. The total percentage of white registered voters in the district, which has been dropping since 2002, is now about 47 percent.

That is down from its high of 62 percent seven years ago. During that span, the proportion of black registered voters increased 14 percentage points, while the number of white voters dropped by nearly the same rate.

What role this change plays in the racial makeup of the evenly split Augusta Commission and Richmond County school board likely depends on whether the trend continues.

Given past voting patterns, the shift probably isn't big enough to affect next year's election for the District 6 seats now held by Commissioner Joe Jackson and school board member Jack Padgett Jr., both of whom are white. Experts on demographics note that a voting district usually must be at least 55 percent black to favor a candidate in that ethnic group -- if ballots are cast along racial lines -- because black voter turnout tends to be lower.

The district won't reach that percentage until about 2013, based on its average rate change of 2 percentage points each year since 2002.

But whether the district will be allowed to continue on a course that might eventually shift the balance of power on the school board and commission, each now with five black and five white members, is uncertain.

The county will be up for reapportionment after the 2010 census. Last time, a committee charged with redrawing districts made sure that balance remained unchanged.

Commissioner Don Grantham would like the next committee to continue the structure.

"Personally I think that this is important because that was one of the main issues when consolidation was voted on and put into place, that equal representation was one of the key factors," said Mr. Grantham, whose at-large super district includes District 6. "If that is what we originally set out to do, we should keep that same feeling of thought. I realize that we can't always keep everything balanced or the way we would like for it to be, but at least a conscientious effort should be made to give equal representation within the makeup of our government."

Such an effort was made after the 2000 census, when District 6 had made its first changeover from majority white to one that had more black registered voters. The redistricting committee -- composed of commission, school board and legislative delegation members -- restored the district to one that was majority white.

Much of the growth between the 1990 and 2000 had taken place in south Augusta, as many inner city residents relocated there. That meant several districts were either underpopulated -- districts 1, 2 and 5 -- or overpopulated -- south Richmond County districts 6 and 8 in particular. To get the districts more in line with what was considered an ideal size of about 25,000 people each, boundary lines were redrawn in 2001.

Redrawing the lines was tricky -- population could only be shifted from neighboring districts in a contiguous manner. Population in heavily white District 8 was shifted north into District 6, which made that district even more overpopulated. From there, population from District 6 was shifted into districts 4 and 2, and so on.

When the final map was agreed upon at the end of 2001 and received U.S. Justice Department approval, white registered voters in District 6 were again the majority. The racial majorities in the remaining districts either strengthened or were little changed.

When the districts are redrawn in 2011, Commissioner Betty Beard said she hopes there won't be any gerrymandering just to prevent District 6 from taking its natural course. With the county's population being majority black since 2000 -- it's now 52 percent compared to 44 percent white -- there shouldn't be any maneuvering to impede reality, she said.

"I think the city is just going to have to take its course," said Mrs. Beard, who represents District 1. "In my opinion, that is just what we will have to abide by ... the makeup of the community."

Even so, that won't guarantee that a black candidate will be elected, said local political analyst Ralph Walker. In the end, it will likely depend on the candidate, regardless of color.

"We're starting to get a little bit away from the total racial divide," Dr. Walker said. "It's not absolute that a black has to run from a black district or a white has to run for a white district."

Reach Mike Wynn at (706) 823-3218 or mike.wynn@augustachronicle.com.

RACIAL BREAKDOWN

Registered voters by district:

District Black White
1 64.9 31.1
2 74.1 22.1
3 36.9 56.1
4 82.2 10.3
5 75.5 19.1
6 47.6 46.7
7 23.5 69.3
8 32 61.9
9-a 74.2 20.7
10-b 35 58.5

a-Super District 9 (at-large, made up of districts 1, 2, 4, 5); b-Super District 10 (at-large, made up of districts 3, 6, 7, 8)

Registered voters, by race, in District 6 since consolidation:

* as of Feb. 25

Year Black White
1995 37.7 59.5
1996 39.4 57.5
1997 43 52.7
1998 43.8 50.4
1999 47.5 47.9
2000 48.7 45.9
2001 51.2 44.7
2002 34.3 62.2
2003 36.9 60.5
2004 39 57.2
2005 40.4 55.5
2006 42.6 52.8
2007 43.4 51.4
2008 47.2 46.8
2009 47.6 46.7 *

Source: Richmond County Board of Elections

Comments (37) Add comment
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politicallyNcorrect1
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politicallyNcorrect1 03/01/09 - 06:10 am
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Leave it to the media to make

Leave it to the media to make sure everything is a black & white in the news. Obama wants everyone to be 1 in America. But as usual the news media will always make sure they can add some racial tension in the mix. One thing will not change: Anything thats negitive or black & white will always be popular.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 03/01/09 - 06:28 am
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I'm not certain why the

I'm not certain why the districts have to be black or white because of redrawn district lines, except for the usual political reasons. I agree with Ms Beard, keep the districts the right size, about 25,000 and without gerrymandering, let the population fall where it may. If that means more white districts or more black districts, well, that's the make up of the area. The 50/50 split, racially, seems to make no sense.

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 03/01/09 - 08:31 am
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Why is this news worthy?

Why is this news worthy?

lukeslywalker
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lukeslywalker 03/01/09 - 08:45 am
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Well, there goes the

Well, there goes the neighborhood!

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 03/01/09 - 08:57 am
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It relates to local politics,

It relates to local politics, Hypo. It will influence the balance of the commission and the school board and possibly the redistricting of the area.

I4PUTT
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I4PUTT 03/01/09 - 09:35 am
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This is also importantant

This is also importantant data for companies coming to the area. Most companies will research not only this demographic data but other as well.

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 03/01/09 - 09:41 am
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Your neighborhood was already

Your neighborhood was already gone.

mad_max
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mad_max 03/01/09 - 09:58 am
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Who cares anymore. The

Who cares anymore. The commission could not possibly do any worse of a job than they are doing now. The whites on the commission kowtow to the blacks now for fear of being called racist so we might as well have an all black commission. That way when the county goes broke and taxes are sky high and garbage collection is $600 a year, there will be no excuses. When they have no one white left to blame they may actually look around and have to see the ineffecientcy and corruption they have fostered with their stupid racial bickering and by filling the county job rolls with their own version of the "family and friends" plan. And Betty Beard, she should not talk about anyone tinkering with things. She is the one who holds the clandestine meetings with the black power structure every week down at her Port Royal apartment. They spend hours planning how to out maneuver our slow witted white commissioners so they can manipulate most of the spending into the black community. Her apartment is where the plans originate for the "walk outs", "absences", and "abstains" during crucial votes. We might as well have all black commissioners because the white community is not being represented anyway.

edieed321
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edieed321 03/01/09 - 10:20 am
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$600/year for garbage

$600/year for garbage collection? Who collects it?

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 03/01/09 - 10:56 am
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Those comments will come back

Those comments will come back to haunt Mrs. Beard...mark my words...

sprintman
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sprintman 03/01/09 - 11:01 am
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Mad max you are a idiot. Why

Mad max you are a idiot. Why do you make this stuff up everyday on here. Augusta is not Atlanta. The mayor of Augusta is white and so is several other commission, and govt officials.

bone
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bone 03/01/09 - 11:05 am
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oh, boy

oh, boy

lukeslywalker
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lukeslywalker 03/01/09 - 11:20 am
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No hypo, not quite--the

No hypo, not quite--the negroes have not ovreun this area yet. However, If obamaman has his way and you don't have to qualify for a million dollar mortgage, he will just take from the rih and give to the "PO", then the neighborhood just might go!

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 03/01/09 - 11:39 am
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Another deceptive goof.

Another deceptive goof. Augusta is 52% MINORITIES not JUST black! When is the commission going to get it through their heads that blacks are NOT the only minority here. I am sick and tired of black this white that. Those are not the only races in Augusta. This type of thinking also implies that people of one race only vote one way. If that was so, and it is not, it would be just plain wrong because it is RACIST. It is also an injustice to the other races in Augusta to only have black or white representation. Martin Luther King, Jr. sure didn't intend for us to gerrymander or represent only blacks and whites or he wouldn't have emphasized character over color. No wonder intelligent, tolerant, caring people of other races than black or white give up and flee Augusta/Richmond County.

apex24
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apex24 03/01/09 - 11:42 am
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Blacks have two cards they

Blacks have two cards they can play. One is "you made that decision because I'm black" the other is "your a racist". Either one of the phrases scares the hell out of some white politicians and the blacks know it. That's why white politicians won't stand up for what they know is right. They are noddlebacks!!!

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 03/01/09 - 11:43 am
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lol, bone. oj2 is envious.

lol, bone. oj2 is envious.

double_standard
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double_standard 03/01/09 - 11:47 am
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The chronicle does it again.

The chronicle does it again.

NicoleKelly
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NicoleKelly 03/01/09 - 11:56 am
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Why is this even a story?

Why is this even a story? Augusta Chronicle please find something else to talk about.

sprintman
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sprintman 03/01/09 - 12:19 pm
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Baroness the chronicle has to

Baroness the chronicle has to print this garbage. In order to give their old white racist, bigoted conservative buddies like apex 24 and lukeslywalker something to vent their racist views on. The chronicle is a typical southern good ole boy paper that has to brainwash the racist whites that the only minorities in Augusta is black. Slavery is along time ago but ppl are still profiting from everything only being black vs white. I don't know why yall are calling it Augusta chronicle. ITS THE EVANS CHRONICLE. Im not playing. The chronicle goes out of its way not to do a negative article about CC. Especially when it comes to crime. Just ask ppl in the know in Augusta.

GnipGnop1
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GnipGnop1 03/01/09 - 12:35 pm
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The white flight out of

The white flight out of Augusta continues....no news here move along.

owensjef2
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owensjef2 03/01/09 - 01:02 pm
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hehe

hehe

lukeslywalker
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lukeslywalker 03/01/09 - 01:06 pm
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Nicole, what would you prefer

Nicole, what would you prefer them to talk about, Jerri going to the big house?

sprintman
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sprintman 03/01/09 - 01:11 pm
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GnipGnop augusta or richmond

GnipGnop augusta or richmond county hasn't lost population since 2005. Which means somebody may have moved from one area of Augusta. To downtown in a condo or loft. I guess the white ppl in these districts aren't getting the memos gnipgnop lol. District 3, 7, 8, and 10. Gnipgnop what happen I thought they were fleeing. 4 districts are majority white and four are black. One is a tie. Beside Columbus, ga i would say Augusta has done the best job. Out of the major cities Atlanta, Savannah, Macon when it comes to white flight, and then other skin color flight which happens after that.

_SisterAbdullahX_
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_SisterAbdullahX_ 03/01/09 - 01:40 pm
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If it's 52%, then it's no

If it's 52%, then it's no longer a minority....thus the definition of MINORITY.

No_Longer_Amazed
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No_Longer_Amazed 03/01/09 - 01:42 pm
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lukeslywalker: I'm waiting to

lukeslywalker: I'm waiting to see what the Mayor Pro-Tem will do about that mess. Contracting is his full-time job.

Obamessiah
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Obamessiah 03/01/09 - 02:29 pm
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sprintman is all that is

sprintman is all that is wrong with the black community...

justus4
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justus4 03/01/09 - 04:12 pm
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The 2000 census was a sham.
Unpublished

The 2000 census was a sham. It's stated right there, "much of the growth between 1990-2000 had taken place in south Augusta" so, Why didn't redistricting after 2000 reflect that change? Because of Republicans protecting their seats gerrymandered the lines and cheated minorities out of legal representation. And look for some rule change or unknown law to surface to keep this seat white. The local paper, working with circuit officials will conjure up an unforseen dilemma which will benefit republicans, after the 2010 census. However, the figures don't lie, but liars do figure.

lukeslywalker
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lukeslywalker 03/01/09 - 04:41 pm
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Justus, ha, ha!

Justus, ha, ha!

jack
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jack 03/01/09 - 05:47 pm
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Srintman, Mad Max is spot on.

Srintman, Mad Max is spot on. Only a fool doesn't see how the black members of the commission manipulate the votes. When was the last time the white mayor got to break a tie (the only time he/she can vote)? When Charles Walker put this government together, he knew exactly what he was doing to give blacks political power in Richmond County and the reason there is white flight to ColCo and N Augusta, that will continue until Augusta/Richmond County become another cesspool like Atlanta. Time to sue for equal voting rights for whitess in Rc. something wrong when only ONE legislative delegate is white..

jack
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jack 03/01/09 - 05:55 pm
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Justus4, you are the joke of

Justus4, you are the joke of the day (as usual). How can blacks be under represented in government from RC when there is only ONE white delegate on the state legilative delegation? I would say it is time to sue for redistricting so that whites CAN be properly represented both locally and state level.

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