A proposed three-region voting map received court approval on Thursday for use in future Central Bucks school board director elections. The district’s existing nine-region map will be used in this year’s November 7 municipal election.
“I am elated by Judge Austin’s ruling to accept the Fair Votes map,” said Tracy Suits of CBSD Fair Votes. “What started as an effort to make sure no one lost their vote in 2023 turned into something much bigger.”
CBSD Fair Votes, a grassroots group of residents, began the process to petition the court for a three-region map last November after seeing the school district’s proposal to reapportion the nine-region voting map due to population fluctuations revealed by the 2020 Census.
The three-region map would provide constituents better representation but the road to secure approval for the map was not without bumps, including the full recusal of the Bucks County judiciary, scheduling delays, and the district’s ability to swap out maps at the last minute.
A total of five maps were presented to the community in August. With the exception of CBSD Fair Votes, the remaining four maps failed to take real voter registration data into consideration and also fragmented municipal boundaries.
Montgomery County Senior Judge Cheryl L. Austin was appointed to hear the case. “[T]he Fair Votes Plan is superior in its maintenance of the political subdivision integrity because it splits fewer municipalities than the New Board Plan,” Austin wrote in her 16-page Opinion and Order.
Austin noted that the Fair Votes Plan “also keeps communities together and preserves communities of interest,” and “[a]n advantage of having fewer regions in the school district will mean that school district residents have an opportunity to vote for three of the nine school district directors, instead of one.”
The new regions map also provides electors the opportunity to vote for representation on the school board every other year, instead of every four years.
Just prior to the November 15 school board meeting of last year, Suits took note of an upcoming agenda item: “Approval to Revise School Board Director Voting Regions.”
Voting maps are traditionally redrawn every ten years following the U.S. Census. Suits believed that the district’s proposed map would disadvantage voters and saw the requirement to redraw the map as an opportunity to make voting for school board directors more equitable for district residents.
“This ruling gives all Central Bucks voters a greater voice in our representation. I cannot wait to be able to vote for school directors in 2025, 2027, and every municipal election that follows,” Suits said.