Kurt Spitzer and Associates have been working with county staff on maps that shift commission district boundaries to equalize the population in each district.

The consultant hired to help with Sarasota County's redistricting effort will present the County Commission with a series of maps Wednesday that show alternative boundary lines for commission districts.

The commission voted last month to have consultant Kurt Spitzer and Associates work with county staff to devise maps that equalize the population in each commission district.

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Commissioners have been pushing to redraw the district boundaries after voters passed the single-member districts amendment to the county charter last year. Previously, commissioners were elected by voters in the entire county. Now, only voters who live within a district can cast ballots in that race.

Under the new system, commissioners say there is an urgent need to rebalance the districts so they have roughly the same number of residents. Only Commissioner Christian Ziegler has voted against redistricting, saying the commission should wait until after the 2020 Census, when there will be better population estimates.

Many critics of the redistricting process view it as an attempt to gerrymander the districts for partisan purposes and to protect incumbents.

Spitzer generated an updated population estimate that relied, in part, on data from the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, which pegged Sarasota County’s 2018 population total at 417,442. Dividing that total by five indicates that each commission district should have roughly 83,488 residents.

By Spitzer’s estimate, the least-populated district currently has 79,590 residents, while the most populated district has 89,824. That’s a 12.26 percentage point spread between the least-populated and most-populated districts, as factored by looking at how many percentage points each district deviates from the ideal district.

Spitzer will present maps Wednesday that adjust commission district lines to get roughly the same number of residents in each district. Commissioners may then make adjustments.