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Task force officials said the revision, which reduces the number of precincts from 32 to 20, preserves neighborhoods and allows for growth.
The Roanoke Times | File November
Voters line up to cast ballots at a precinct in southwest Roanoke. A task panel has recommended consolidating voting districts in northwest Roanoke.
The Roanoke Times | File 2010
Tuesday's proposal was designed to cut waiting times and shorten the drive to precincts in northwest Roanoke.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The task force assigned to explore redrawing Roanoke’s voting precinct lines will recommend a plan to consolidate the city’s 32 precincts into 20.
The plan revises an earlier proposal from the Roanoke Electoral Board by splitting what were to be two large precincts in the northwest quadrant into three.
The new approach creates a precinct based on the Melrose-Loudon neighborhood and another based on the Melrose-Rugby and Fairland neighborhoods, linked by the now-undeveloped Evans Spring area, said Braxton Naff, chairman of the Election Precincts Task Force appointed by the city council last year.
With the expansion of Interstate 581’s Valley View Boulevard interchange, city officials expect Evans Spring will see mixed residential and commercial development.
The third precinct in the area would cover neighborhoods to the south of Fairland and west of Melrose-Rugby.
The three precincts cover an area now split among three precincts and parts of four others.
“We wanted to follow defined neighborhood lines,” Naff said. “If you split neighborhoods between precincts, it just makes things confusing.”
Naff said the revised proposal, approved by the task force Tuesday, would mean a shorter trip to vote for Fairland residents and cut waiting times for voters across the northwest quadrant.
Melvin Williams, secretary of the electoral board, said the realignment would allow the board to distribute equipment and poll workers more efficiently.
Overall, the realignment would mean each precinct in the city would have more poll books — the laptops election workers use to check that voters are registered — and voting machines, he said.
The three revised northwest Roanoke precincts would have between 1,937 and 3,080 voters each. Each is served by several bus lines.
The largest precinct in the city would be in south Roanoke, with 3,996 registered voters. State law says no precinct may exceed 5,000 voters.
The city council must approve any change in precinct lines, and is slated to consider the proposal at its first meeting in June. Any changes must also be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure they comply with the Voting Rights Act. If approved, the changes would take effect Dec. 31, and so would not affect where people vote in this year’s election.
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