Redistricting resulted in some voters being assigned new precincts

Gary B. Gray • Jul 19, 2012 at 9:55 PM

By now, voters should have received in the mail notice of any changes in the physical location at which they can exercise their constitutional right.

Redistricting shifted some populations in East Tennessee into new state House and Senate districts, and these people now are assigned to new precincts. For Washington County voters, changes in the 6th and 7th districts served by Jonesborough Republicans Dale Ford and Matthew Hill, respectively, have created two new precincts, changed the location of one, eliminated one and joined others known as “split” precincts.

“There is an insert in the cards we’re sending out to voters that informs them if their voting precinct has changed,” said Maybell Stewart, Washington County administrator of elections. “Whether the House district has changed or not, it will show their precinct. The notice also reminds them they need to bring a photo ID.”

The newly created precincts are Cherokee City (31). This was formed to bring in voters annexed out of the Cherokee Outside (82) precinct. The other is New Victory Fellowship Hall (34), which was formed from a growing number of voters at Jonesborough Courthouse (formerly 152), Telford (formerly 5) and Leesburg (formerly 16).

Voters who have used the Cherokee Inside precinct (formerly 814) now will vote at Midway Inside (29).

The Fire Training Center precinct (formerly 816) has been eliminated, mainly because of low voter turnout. People who used to vote at this precinct will now vote at Midway Inside (29).

Meanwhile, there is one change in Carter County.

The southernmost portion of the Hunter precinct in the 1st District, containing 250 residents, was transferred to the Courthouse precinct in the 4th District in order to meet the minimum requirements for equal representation.

When the General Assembly began adjusting the Senate boundaries, it used the old Carter County boundary to draw the new district line. When Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s district was extended into Carter County, he was assigned the 1st Precinct under the old boundaries.

State law does not permit Senate boundaries to bisect precincts, so the Carter County Commission created a new precinct that was the former part of Hunter that had been designated to the Courthouse precinct. The National Guard Armory precinct was created for this purpose. It remains in the 4th District.

Redistricting in Unicoi County did not lead to the addition or removal of any precincts or polling places, but around 1,500 of the county’s approximately 11,000 registered voters across the county’s three districts were affected.

Unicoi County Elections Administrator Sarah Bailey said that over the past 10 years, the county experienced most of its growth in the county’s 3rd District, which includes the town of Unicoi and the north end of the county.

“The issue was trying to shuffle people down into 1st and 2nd away from 3rd,” Bailey said.

Voters residing in the Whispering Meadows apartment complex and those living along other sections of Zane Whitson Road were moved from the 3rd District to the 2nd District. Those affected in this shift will vote at the polling place at Rock Creek Elementary School on Election Day.

Voters living in the Indian Creek and Harris Hollow areas also were moved to the 2nd District from the 1st District. Bailey said these voters will be split up and will either cast votes at Unicoi County Intermediate School or Rock Creek Elementary.

In the town of Erwin, voters living along portions of South Elm Avenue, South Main Avenue, Venton Street, Horton Ridge Road and Jones Road were redistricted from the 2nd District to the 1st. Those affected in this shift will vote at the Love Chapel Elementary School polling place.

Bailey said all the county’s voters were sent information in April, and fliers were sent to those affected by redistricting. Bailey said the Election Commission will continue to keep voters informed of the changes leading up to the day of the election.

Elizabethton Bureau Chief John Thompson and Erwin Bureau Chief Brad Hicks contributed to this report.

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