Virginia’s split precinct problem

by Brooks Braun

The 2012 election will soon be upon Virginia. If past elections and the current political climate are reliable guides, the level of participation will once again place enormous pressure on the election administrative apparatus. Will Virginia be prepared? One ominous reason to be skeptical is the recent explosion of split precincts following from the2011 redistricting process.

Split precincts are a normal outcome of every redistricting process. The precinct itself is usually the smallest unit of administration in an election district. However, when the General Assembly draws new district lines that do not follow old precinct lines, a split precinct is created.  In such a precinct, voters don’t all vote for the same offices. For example, some voters in the precinct might vote for a representative to fill state senate seat A, while other voters, in the same precinct, vote for a representative to fill state senate seat B. Precincts can also be split more than once (once by a concessional district line and once more by a state senate line, for instance). It’s like having multiple precincts in one. Continue reading