By Taylor Boyd
Residents will have an opportunity to express their opinion on proposed changes to district lines in Patrick County when the Patrick County Board of Supervisors holds a public hearing on the proposal at its April 25 meeting.
Redistricting is the process of drawing electoral district boundaries, according to County Administrator Geri Hazelwood, who added that redistricting normally happens the year after the U.S. Census.
Patrick County Registrar Susan Taylor explained that redistricting should have occurred in 2021, but it was delayed because of the pandemic and the census numbers being released later than anticipated.
Taylor said the lines are adjusted to ensure each district has an equal population. “It can only be a variant of five percent more or less of population” in each district, she said.
The biggest change in the current proposal involves putting all of the Town of Stuart into one precinct, Taylor said.
“The town was split into two different districts – Blue Ridge and Smith River,” Taylor said. “This will put the Town of Stuart to itself in one precinct (and) all into the Blue Ridge District.”
Other proposed changes include parts of the Dobyns and the Salem Highway areas being moved in the Peters Creek District, and the Moorefield Store area becomes part of the Mayo River District.
A part of the eastern section of the Belcher Mountain area that was in the Woolwine area of the Smith River District will be moved to the Meadows of Dan area of the Blue Ridge District, Taylor said.
The Rustic Ridge Road area near Virginia 8 will move from the Blue Ridge District to the Smith River District, she said.
The Dan River District will stay the same. “Actually, there is no change whatsoever to that district,” she said.
Taylor said that while the Blue Ridge District is getting bigger geographically, it is in line with all of the other districts in terms of the number of voters.
Voting precincts will remain in the current locations.
Taylor said some residents may have new representatives in county government.
“People that were in this Dobyns area before their representative would have been the Blue Ridge District, but they’ll now be part of the Peters Creek District and have a new representative,” she said.
The final map must be approved by the Patrick County Board of Supervisors, before it is sent to the Attorney General’s Office for approval.
Taylor said once that process concludes, voters will be notified of any changes. Those who end up in a new district need not take any action.
“They would just automatically be moved” and put into the system of the new district, Taylor said.
The next redistricting will take place in 2031.