Special meeting held for district, voting precinct changes


BUCKHANNON — Early Wednesday morning, the Upshur County Commission held a special meeting to consider the final adoption and approval of an order regarding changes to the county’s Magisterial District and voting precincts. These changes were made necessary due to the West Virginia Legislature undertaking the redistricting process, which resulted in new political boundaries set for Congressional, State Senate and House of Delegate districts. The motion was unanimously approved by the Upshur County Commission and will move forward, implementing the proposed changes.

Back on October 22, 2021, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed the state’s Congressional (SB 3033), State Senate (SB 3034) and House of Delegates (HB 301) districts into law. The changes implemented by these bills were prompted by a decline in the state’s population and will drop West Virginia to just two members in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as reshuffle Senate and House districts on the state level. The new alignment set forth in the bills signed by Governor Justice will also eliminate multi-member districts throughout the state. Since the last Census in 2010, West Virginia has lost more than 60,000 residents, which amounts to a 3.2% loss in total population. At one time, West Virginia had as many as six members in the U.S. House of Representatives. This change prompted the County Commission to act in order to adjust voting precincts and magisterial lines to ensure the county is compliant with these new mandates. The county commissioners had to redraw and redistrict around 14 separate areas due to boundary conflicts.

The loss of one of the state’s seats due to U.S. Census reapportionment in the House, paired along with the elimination of multi-member districts, required the state to redistrict and for the county commissions to act to conform to these statewide changes. As West Virginia will only have two congressional seats, new boundaries for every state Senate and Delegate district had to be set. The special session Wednesday was to discuss and vote on the approval of the proposed changes.

According to state law, the state’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 further states that Congressional districts must be formed of contiguous counties and 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. The final changes saw boundary changes to Upshur County’s three magisterial districts, 13 voting precincts, including consolidation and closure of precinct 33.

All voters whose precincts or polling places are impacted by this change will be mailed an updated Voter Registration card before the 2022 Primary. Voters can also check their registration and polling location at www.GoVoteWV.com.

Notice of the change will also be sent out following the January 15 Special Election and prior to the May 2022 Primary Election. The changes will not take hold until after the Special Election; however, they will take effect before the May 2022 Primary Election and every subsequent election following. An updated map detailing the redistricting overview within Upshur County can be found at www.upshurcounty.org. It is key for constituents to monitor West Virginia’s Congressional and state legislative lines to be aware of the new district boundaries and Magisterial Districts, to know who will be representing them, and to identify their precinct locations for the upcoming 2022 elections after the beginning of next year.

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