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County juggles new delegate district lines with local precincts, magisterial boundaries

by Kate Shunney

New House of Delegates districts drawn by state lawmakers will shift voting precincts for 505 county voters Morgan County officials have said.

Those county residents will see a change in their voting precinct in the 2022 primary election because state delegate districts were adopted in October. The change came in response to 2020 Census data.

During a public hearing about political district lines and their effect on Magisterial districts last Wednesday, Morgan County Commissioners said local voters who will be affected by the change will get a letter from the County Clerk’s office. New district lines will impact voters in Precinct #6, #21 and #25.

“The good thing is we don’t have to create a new polling place or take one away,” said Commissioner Bill Clark.

Former delegate and Governor’s Office representative Daryl Cowles suggested to commissioners that the new lines of the delegate districts “should be congruent” with the county’s Magisterial districts.

Morgan County has five Magisterial districts, and those district lines dictate who can run for County Commission and the Board of Education.

There was some confusion during the public hearing about the overlapping House of Delegates districts, voting precincts and Magisterial districts.

Commission President Joel Tuttle explained that the new delegate district lines came from the state, and the county’s voting precincts have to align with them.

“Precincts have to be in line with the delegate districts so everyone in a precinct gets the same ballot,” Tuttle said.

There were only minor changes to the delegate district boundaries, except for an oddly-shaped loop that follows the bend of the Cacapon River. That new line means a handful of residents along the river will now be counted in a precinct that votes in Berkeley Springs rather than Great Cacapon.

Local Magisterial district lines don’t have to match up to voting precincts since all county elected seats are on the same ballot.

County Clerk Kim Nickles said the county has to finalize any changes to their voting precincts soon.

Rearranging Magisterial districts can be done later, Nickles said.

Commissioners will take up the question of local Magisterial district lines at their December 1 meeting.

 

County residents and officials look at new political district lines during a November 17 hearing.

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