Nothing is as political as placing lines on maps to determine who votes in which races.
It's called redistricting and Lexington-Fayette County is in the final and most political stages of drawing new lines.
The activity shifted last week from a citizen committee to the elected members of the Urban County Council, which will hold a meeting this morning to discuss the proposal before it.
The temptation for council members is great. The lines, after all, will change the districts from which they are elected and, possibly affect their political fates.
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Our advice to the council: Avoid temptation and listen to the committee.
Redistricting is painful, but necessary, to protect the right of each voter to have a roughly equal say in how we're governed.
In Fayette County, for example, there are 12 council districts and, as of the 2010 census, 296,000 residents, for a theoretical average of 24,666 people per district.
Even if the last redistricting achieved a near-perfect balance, population changes would throw it out of whack again as people move in and out of different parts of the city.
The committee has been working for five months, conducting all of its work in public.
By law, the committee had to do its work without splitting up any voting precincts or leapfrogging to add to a district precincts that don't already border it.
In addition, the committee set a goal of keeping neighborhoods together in one district rather than splitting their representation.
Finally, the committee had to draw lines that achieve some sort of equity and that take into account anticipated population shifts until the next census.
Like a game of pick-up-sticks, a shift in one district will affect several others and possibly the whole plan.
The plan the committee presented to the council moves just more than 33,000 people, or about 10 percent of the population, into new districts.
It's impossible, of course, to work within the constraints of precinct and neighborhood lines and achieve anything close to perfect equity among districts.
Courts generally approve plans that have a deviation of 10 percent or less from the desired average among the districts with the most and the fewest people.
The plan before the council has a deviation of 10.76 percent, which a city attorney believed would pass court review.
By state law, the council must adopt a redistricting plan by Nov. 3, just a month away.
The council should review the proposal closely, debate it vigorously and make changes – — if it can craft a more equitable distribution.
But any changes must be based solely on fairness to voters, not the preferences of council members looking to the next election.