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State Lawmakers Are Trying to Iron Out Differences in Order to End Split Precincts

The chaos of the last election is causing some discussion in Richmond about improving the way people vote. But the House and Senate have radically different approaches.

Remember last year when all those voters cast ballots in the wrong election? That was because of split precincts, where some voters were in one district while others were in a different district. Republican Senator Mark Obenshain of Rockingham County says it’s time to end split precincts.

“So there were two precincts in which there were two legislators you could vote for depending upon where you live in the precinct. That’s just wrong. We ought to have a precinct that is entirely within one legislative district.”

But members of the House of Delegates say hold on a minute. Republican Delegate Mark Cole of Fredericksburg says forcing local governments to eliminate split precincts for state legislative districts might end up backfiring.

“I don’t think the Senate solution is going to be workable. I think it will end up with more split precincts at the local level or a bunch of incredibly small precincts increasing the cost of elections.”

House members and Senate leaders will be headed behind closed doors for a secret conference session to hammer out their differences.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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