The Clarke County Board of Supervisors approved new voter district boundaries on Tuesday. The federally mandated redistricting is in response to periodic census results where electoral district and constituency boundaries must periodically be moved in order to balance population and demographic changes.
Clarke County’s proposed voting district changes, which still require Justice Department approval, do not appear to represent major changes for voters.
In 36 states including Virginia, the state legislature has the primary responsibility for creating a redistricting plan. The Virginia Assembly’s most recent redistricting proposal was recently vetoed by Governor Robert McDonald, in part, due to the proposed plan’s failure to “properly preserve locality lines and communities of interest.”
Also known as Gerrymandering, the unfair practice of drawing district lines to achieve political gain for legislators, McDonald’s veto affirms perceptions that the General Assembly plan aims to leave out, or include, specific populations in various legislator’s district to ensure reelection success.
While Virginia’s state legislators may be attempting to use political muscle to influence future elections, Clarke County’s electoral changes preserve long-standing voting patterns.
“The new districts reflect minimal modifications to the existing five electoral districts” Clarke County Planning Administrator Chuck Johnston told the supervisors on Tuesday night. “The new electoral lines follow readily identifiable boundaries such as roads and corporate limits and balance population changes.”
The changes, approved unanimously by Clarke County supervisors on Tuesday evening, shift:
– 81 people from the Millwood Election District to the White Post Election District
– 142 people from Russell Election District to the Millwood Election District
– 85 people from the Berryville Election District to the Millwood Election District
– 35 people from the Millwood Election District to the Berryville Election District
– 10 people from the Buckmarsh Election District to the Berryville Election District
– 451 people from the Berryville Election District to the Russell Election District
Several citizens attended the voting district public hearing on Tuesday night but only one, Boyce Mayor Franklin Roberts, addressed the supervisors.
Mayor Roberts asked what the main problem redistricting was intended to solve.
“With the growth of Berryville it now has many more voters and people than it did before” answered supervisor chairman Michael Hobert (Berryville). “The â€˜one-man-one-vote’ rule means that voting lines have to be moved to be sure that things are equal.”
Clarke County’s new voter districts have now been forwarded to the US Department of Justice for review. DOJ has 60 days to review the voting boundaries and must respond with any objections by July 15.