Bath County Needs To Adjust Two Districts Due To Census Changes
Warm Springs, VA – In Bath County, the recent census figures revealed that a couple of voting district lines need to be redrawn. There are federal and state requirements that all districts be balanced. They are all supposed to be equal in terms of population. Bath County Administrator Bonnie Johnson has been working on redistricting plans.
“We have two districts that we need to do some shifts so that they’ll maintain their balance” says Johnson. “One is Cedar Creek – it actually has too large a population to meet the balanced figures; your ideal number is 946 and they’re 1109. And so we have to move some people out of the Cedar Creek voting district in order for that to be balanced again. It turns out that Warm Springs has too few people; it’s 803 and needs to be closer to 946, so we’ll have to move people into that voting district for them to be balanced.”
The county has found two alternatives where each will meet the requirements of balancing the districts. Either the southwest corner of the Cedar Creek district or the northeast corner of the Cedar Creek district can be added to the Warm Springs district. And the Bath Board of Supervisors wants to hear which of those two alternatives are preferable to voters.
“The northeast alternative is the area generally around the [Bath County] High School; there are a few subdivision streets and so forth in that genereal area” says Johnson. “The other alternative is generally along [Routes] 687, 607 where we have the mobile home village.”
With the redistricting, the major change for voters will be their polling place. Cedar Creek district voters now vote at the Hot Springs Firehouse. When a section of the Cedar Creek district is absorbed into the Warm Springs district those voters would then go to Warm Springs Presbyterian Church to vote.
“We are under a time deadline” says Johnson. “We only received the data in late February and we have moved very quickly to work with the Board [of Supervisors] on the different alternatives and to bring them as quickly as possible back to the public. Then this will allow the Board to make a decision so that we can put our package together and send it in time for the [Virginia] Department of Justice and Division of Legislative Services to look at them.”
When developing a redistricting plan, the number of people in a voting district is not the only consideration.
“We have to have compact districts, they must be contiguous, they can’t have one that’s split; you have to try to preserve your communities of interest as they are today” she says. “You want voter convenience and you want to be able to effectively administer your elections. Then you have certain racial considerations so that you don’t outbalance what balances exist today.”
Two public hearings are scheduled on this redistricting. The first on is Tuesday April 12 at approximately 7:30 during the monthly Board of Supervisors meeting. The second one is Monday April 18 at 7pm. Both will be held in the district courtroom of the Courthouse.