Local/State

Opponents: Redistricting maps confusing

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Redrawing the maps always means confusion for poll workers and voters, but insiders who've been dealing with that for decades, say the current redistricting issue is the worst they've seen it.

"There will be longer lines," said Aida Havel, Wake County Board of Elections chair. "There will probably be a bit of a bottleneck at the ballot distribution table."

She says changes in the Legislature will likely have a major ripple effect in the precincts.

"The bottom line is there's a possibility that some precincts could have as many as 18 ballot styles," Havel added.

Until now, the most ballot styles elections officials would have had to deal with was three or four. Havel says the new lines, which are drawn by Republicans, split cities, streets and neighborhoods apart. That often means different ballots for people living in the same precinct.

"They can't just rely on what a neighbor says, you know, 'Oh, I'm going to vote for so and so because so and so might not be on the ballot," Havel said.

She says that's the tip of the iceberg, and along with voter and precinct worker confusion, more ballot styles will mean a more expensive election and potentially a more challengeable election where races are close.

In the meantime, in the weeks and months before the primaries, the new lines will mean one thing for sure -- more work for boards of elections.

"They will actually go block by block and house by house, to figure out, at each address, who is eligible to vote in which contest," Havel said.

It's not just Wake County. Statewide the number of precincts handling more than one ballot is in the hundreds.

In the House, 402 precincts could be split. In the Senate, it is 257 and in congressional races, it is 74.

However, despite concerns of having so many potential ballots, 18 at one precinct, Republicans say it shouldn't be a problem.

"They have to just pick the right one and the computer will tell them which one to pick, and we have smart people at the precincts," House Majority Leader Representative Paul Stam said.

Stam dismisses most of the concerns outright. He says the expense will be trivial and voters will know ahead of time who's on their ballot.

"It's an administrative issue, but it's not a problem," Stam added.

The Representative's certainty isn't shared by Havel or other election officials ABC11 talked to. They say they are the ones who will have to figure out how to work within the lines.

The House and Senate have passed its own maps and Wednesday lawmakers will likely vote on the other chamber's maps.

If the maps pass, they will go to federal court for final approval.

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general assembly, nc house, nc senate, local/state, jon camp
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