Commissioners take next step in redistricting process


BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Commissioners approved and signed a Notice of Public Hearing set for Wednesday, December 22 at 9:15 a.m., in order to consider the final adoption and approval of an order regarding boundary changes in the county’s three magisterial districts, boundary changes of 13 county precincts, as well as the consolidation and closure of Precinct 33.

This is the next step towards the finalization of the adjustments of districts to fit the changes implemented by the West Virginia State Legislature. These changes were required due to West Virginia dropping down to only two members in the U.S. House of Representatives, following a drop in population recorded in the last census. This resulted in the need to reshuffle the Senate and House districts on the state level. In order to form new political boundaries for Congressional, State Senate, and House of Delegate Districts, decisions had to be made on the local level. 

The Upshur County Commission had some level of autonomy in their efforts to redistrict appropriately. According to state law, West Virginia’s House of Delegates must be apportioned into 100 single-member districts. In prior years, the House comprised 67 districts in which most members were elected from multi-member districts. State law further provides that state legislative districts be as close to equal in population as possible. The West Virginia Constitution continues to state that Congressional Districts must be formed of contiguous counties, and that they be compact; state Senate districts must be compact, contiguous, and bounded by county lines where doing so is not otherwise unlawful. The state courts have given the legislature a great deal of flexibility to gauge compactness for itself and to cross county lines for state Senate districts in order to achieve equal population and have emphasized that there is no similar county-line mandate for state Delegate districts.

Currently, Upshur County is part of three House districts and in order to implement the proposed boundaries, changes must be made to some of the county’s 21 voting precincts and three magisterial districts. Concerning changes in magisterial lines, an area of Precinct 16 will be transferred to the First Magisterial District and a small section of Precinct 47 is set to be added onto the Third Magisterial District. In terms of changes in voting precincts, 14 of the county’s 21 precincts were impacted by the redistricting process. Portions of Precincts 38 and 39 are set to swap some areas. Precincts 6 and 27 are split by the newly set House of Delegates line, some voters that frequent these voting centers may be directed to neighboring voting precincts. Precinct 33 is set to be merged with both Precincts 35 and 37, reducing the number of Upshur County’s voting precincts to 20.

Any planned change would not officially take place until ahead of the 2022 primary election in May and will not be finalized without a formal meeting between the three county commissioners, as well a public hearing surrounding the issue. Scheduling this hearing for the meeting on December 22 is the next step towards implementing the proposed changes.

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