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A task force is studying the issue of long waits to vote, and whether to cut the number of precincts.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Roanoke’s Election Precincts Task Force is on track to make a recommendation to the city council about how — or whether — to revise the city’s voting precincts by May, Chairman Braxton Naff said at the end of the group’s second public hearing Tuesday.
Naff said he expects to hold two or three work sessions before voting on a final recommendation.
Tuesday’s hearing focused on a proposal by the Roanoke Elector al Board to reduce the number of precincts in the city from 32 to 19. Last November, concerned about long lines of people waiting to vote, the council asked the task force to take another look. Only about 10 people attended.
The board had to draw lines that kept precincts compact and contiguous and that followed such landmarks as rivers, roads and railroads. It also wanted to avoid splitting precincts between legislative districts and tried to keep neighborhoods intact, board secretary Melvin Williams said.
“We started with a blank slate,” he said.
The board believes reducing the number of precincts will cut the time voters wait. One reason for long waits in the past has been that the board has only 64 electronic poll-books — the laptop computers that poll workers use to check that voters are registered and are in the right place. That means only two per precinct, no matter whether it has only 965 voters, as does Williamson Road No. 2, or 3,544, as does Washington Heights. The board has asked the city council for 12 more laptops.
The board also has only 135 voting machines. There is a state freeze on purchasing any more.
Fewer precincts would mean more machines for each voting place, Williams said.
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