Voting changes in store in Waynesboro?

On the horizon in Waynesboro – a fifth city voting ward and November city elections. Both could be among suggestions early next year from voter registrar Lisa Wooten.

The talk about creating a fifth voting ward is being pushed by population growth in the city’s West End, especially in the area currently constituting Ward D. Current registration numbers have 4,022 registered voters in Ward D, nearly 30 percent above the total for the ward with the next highest number of registered voters, Ward B, which has 3,127 registered voters, and close to double the totals in Ward C (2,687) and Ward A (2,244).

A fifth ward could be carved out of D and B, more evenly distributing voter numbers across the city.

The issue will come to a head next spring when the city gets back numbers from the 2010 U.S. Census. The redistricting issue could also be dealt with by shifting voters among the four existing city wards, Wooten said.

“Because the City Council has four members seated by ward, and all five members are elected citywide, it could make sense to have the fifth member moved from at-large to a ward,” Wooten said.

The at-large seat is currently held by Mayor Frank Lucente, whose seat comes up for re-election in 2012.

A change involving the creation of a new ward would have to be approved by the City Council and would also require a change in the city charter that would have to be approved by the Virginia General Assembly.

A possible move to November city elections would also require City Council and General Assembly approval. A new state law pushing the costs of May elections back onto localities could drive a move in that direction.

Wooten estimates the costs of running May city elections at $5,000 to $7,000. The state picks up the tab for November elections.

Cost savings would be one factor. Increased voter turnout would be another.

“More voter participation would be a good thing,” Wooten said.
 
 

Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.


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