Carrsville, Camp’s Mill precincts now in 64th district
Published 4:24 pm Monday, May 13, 2019
Two voting precincts in southern Isle of Wight County, which were previously included in Virginia’s 75th House of Delegates district, have been moved to Virginia’s 64th district as a result of a federal court ruling earlier this year.
According to a Feb. 14 article in The Washington Post, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia voted 2 to 1 in February to finalize a map drawn by a court-appointed expert, which puts six Republicans into districts that are expected to become majority Democratic. The Post states, “Federal judges ruled last year that 11 of Virginia’s House of Delegates districts in the Richmond and Hampton Roads areas were racially gerrymandered — designed to concentrate black voters and deprive them of representation. After the General Assembly failed to agree on a redistricting plan last fall, the judges appointed Bernard Grofman, a professor at the University of California at Irvine, to draw new boundaries.”
The article then states that the map the judges chose would more evenly distribute black voters and put more Democratic-leaning voters into districts held by Republicans.
The two Isle of Wight County precincts that have been moved are Carrsville and Camp’s Mill (near the county’s border with the city of Franklin). Both had previously been represented by Del. Roslyn Tyler (D) as part of the 75th district but now as part of the 64th are represented by Del. Emily Brewer (R).
According to Isle of Wight County’s website, the Carrsville precinct has a population of 1,217 and the
Camp’s Mill precinct has a population of 782. Betterton said that during the November 2016 presidential election, 55 percent of those who cast a ballot in the Camp’s Mill precinct voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, 43 percent voted for Republican candidate and now-President Donald Trump and 2 percent voted for other candidates. In the Carrsville precinct, on the other hand, 60 percent voted for Trump in 2016, while just 35 percent voted for Clinton and another 5 percent voted for other candidates.
“I think the gerrymandering concern was in other surrounding counties and cities,” Betterton said. “Isle of Wight was affected minimally from the redistricting.”
Another reason the impact of redistricting on Isle of Wight County may be minimal is that Brewer, who was first elected in November 2017, is currently running for re-election unopposed.
Virginia House Republicans have appealed the federal judges’ ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is why Betterton has held off mailing voter notices to those in the Carrsville and Camp’s Mill precincts. A March 18 article in The Richmond Times-Dispatch states that if the justices choose to take up the merits of the case, the opinion might not come until May or June. Betterton, speaking to The Tidewater News on Friday, was uncertain if the Supreme Court had chosen to take up the case since that time.
“We don’t have a June primary so we can wait on it,” Betterton said. “We don’t want to have to mail things twice… If it’s still going in the direction it’s going right now, we’ll be sending out voter notifications by August. I just don’t want to send [notices] out if something could happen. It costs the county money and it confuses the voters.”
Regardless of what the Supreme Court decides, there is one change to Virginia election law that is certain to take effect by the 2020 presidential election. Betterton confirmed that the General Assembly had recently passed legislation allowing no-excuse in-person absentee voting.
This means that voters who show up in-person at the county’s Registrar’s Office to vote in an election prior to the election day will no longer need to declare one of the previously-required allowable reasons for voting absentee. Betterton said that the no-excuse absentee voting legislation passed only allows this for in-person voting at the county Registrar’s Office and only during the seven days prior to an election date. Mail-in absentee ballots, she said, will still require an approved reason. She added that the legislation will not take effect in time for this November’s House of Delegates election, but will be in effect in time for the 2020 presidential election.