On Monday night, the city council will review plans that could add as many as three new voting precincts to the city
A surge in registered voters has the city of Charlottesville looking to redraw its voting precinct lines and maybe even add a few polling places. However, city councilors have to act quickly because federal law mandates that they redistrict.
On Monday night, the city council will review plans that could add as many as three new voting precincts to the city, all before the November elections.
Charlottesville Registrar Sheri Iachetta says the city needs to add new precincts ahead of the November elections in order to prevent long lines at polling places. "We have one precinct that is over the legal limit as the state sees it," she explained.
This decade, the city has seen a surge in registered voters from not quite 18,000 when Iachetta took over the registrar's office in 1999, to nearly 28,000 currently - including a surge of 5,000 new voters in the months leading up to the 2008 presidential election. It's estimated the city will have more than 30,000 voters by 2012.
Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris agrees that something needs to be done quickly, but he says the change must be thorough.
"What I don't want to do is do sort of a piecemeal solution where we tweak some of the lines just to suffice for today just for the coming election. I'd rather put in place a redistricting that's going to last more many years so we don't end up having voter confusion," said Norris.
Once Iachetta presents her recommendations, the council will have to sign off on any proposed changes. The city will then need to redraw the precinct lines using new census numbers due out in February. Finally, the Justice Department will need to approve all of it before the city can issue new voting cards in October.
As for the budgetary impact, the biggest expense would be voting machines for any new precincts, which could cost up to $40,000. Before anything is finalized, the city plans to hold public hearings on the matter this spring.