Change will leave Isle of Wight County with 13 split precincts

Published 7:46 am Saturday, May 21, 2011

FRANKLIN—Area election officials are planning for some big changes to ballots for the upcoming election due to redrawn legislative district lines passed last month by the General Assembly.

The biggest changes will be in Isle of Wight County, where officials expect a total of 13 different ballot styles due to split precincts.

Billy Bell, secretary for Isle of Wight voter registrars, said voting precincts will be split among new Senate districts 3, 14 and 16 as well as House districts 64 and 75.

“We’re going from one Senate district (before) to three Senate districts and two House districts,” Bell said. “We’re going to have eight split precincts.”

Under the new plan, the precincts of Bartlett, Carrollton, and Smithfield will be in the third Senate district, currently represented by Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, along with the Hardy District precincts of Rushmere and Pons. In addition the Pons and Rushmere precincts will also be split among the 14th and 18th senate districts represented by Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, and Harry Blevins, R-Chesapeake, respectively. These precincts will be part of the 64th House District, in which Republican Rick Morris has announced his bid for the seat held by Democratic incumbent Bill Barlow of Smithfield.

“We are going to have eight split precincts,” Bell said.

Previously the county has had no more than one split precinct, he said.

The Windsor precinct is split between the 14th and 18th Senate districts, resulting in two different ballot styles. Windsor will also be in the 64th House District.

Bell said Zuni is also split between the 14th and 18th Senate districts. He said the Camps Mill precinct will be split between the 64th and 75th House districts.

Bell said the Raynor precinct would be split between the third and 18th Senate districts.

Southampton County Voter Registrar Secretary R.M. Felts Jr. said election plans will not change as much there as in Isle of Wight because Southampton County did not experience the same population growth as the neighboring county.

However, Felts does believe the redrawing of district lines should be taken out of politicians’ hands to avoid future problems.

“It’s just like having a mother judge a baby contest when her baby’s in it,” Felts said. “There should be a better way of doing it.”

Southampton County will be represented in the 14th and 18th Senate districts as well as the 64th and 75th House districts, Felts said. The county will lose one precinct though as the Meherrin precinct will be consumed by another precinct.

Southampton County Registrar of Voters Leona Davis does not expect the price of the upcoming county and state elections to change much from the $14,500 spent four years ago as the new district lines will create no additional ballot styles for the county.

Bell said each additional paper ballot style would cost IOW $425 after an initial setup fee of $800. Bell added that the price to set up a touch screen system in some Isle of Wight precincts will cost the county around $5,000, which is up from the $1,285 spent on the touch screen system during the last election.

Jennifer Maynard, Franklin’s voter registrar, also does not expect a huge change in the cost of the upcoming election. Franklin’s second and sixth precincts will be split between the 64th and 75th House districts, she said.

Maynard said the city would have the same number of ballot styles as the last election, resulting in no additional costs.

The proposed redistricting plan has received both House and Senate approval but must also be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice before it can be implemented.