The man in charge of redistricting for the West Virginia House of Delegates was Mineral County Republican Gary Howell, chair of the House Redistricting Committee.
“We have taken care to keep counties and municipalities as whole as possible where it’s been requested,” Howell said after the legislation passed last month.
But it was requested for Morgan County. (See West Virginia Redistricting Should Keep Morgan County Whole, October 1, 2021.)
And after a close look at the redistricting maps, it appears as if those requests fell on deaf ears.
Instead, for unknown reasons, the legislature jigsawed Morgan County with its redistricting line.
Just take a look at the dividing line between the new Districts 89 and 90 over near Great Cacapon. It meanders along the banks of the Cacapon River in a wild s shape. At one spot you can walk north starting in District 89, and within a few feet cross into District 90 and then with a few more steps cross back into District 89.
The dividing lines between Districts 89 and 90 used to run along Cacapon Ridge. Under the new map, it runs north from the Virginia border along US 522, until it gets to just north of Bob’s Tire, where it takes a sharp right turn along Shirley Lane. That means that that small community just east of 522 is in District 89. While the rest of the area east of 522 is in District 90.
Or let’s say you live on the east side of US 522 in southern Morgan County, and most of your adult life you have voted a mile away at Cacapon State Park. But now, Cacapon State Park will be in a different House of Delegates district. Will you still be voting there?
The legislature has handed off these new maps to the counties. And the Morgan County Commissioners now have to deal with dividing up the thirteen precincts and five magisterial districts to fit with the new maps.
They will begin the process at a public meeting at November 17 at 1 pm at the Morgan County Courthouse in Berkeley Springs.
Morgan County Commissioner Sean Forney says they hope to do the job “with the least disruption possible.”
“It is important that voters be aware of the new districts, who they will be represented by, and to identify their precinct locations for the 2022 elections after the beginning of next year,” said West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner. “West Virginia now has two congressional seats and there are new boundaries for every State Senate and Delegate District.”
Warner said that his office is working with all 55 of the state’s county clerks to help educate voters on the new districts and possible polling location changes.
“The process that the counties use to implement the new districts will be done in a transparent and public manner according to existing law. Public notices of proposed local changes will be communicated using a combination of posted meeting notices and Class II-0 legal advertisements inviting community feedback and participation,” Warner said. “County Commissions have until January 22, 2022 to update local precinct and magisterial boundaries ahead of the May 10, 2022 Primary Election.”
All voters whose precincts or polling places are affected will be mailed an updated Voter Registration card before the May 2022 Primary Election. Once completed in early 2022, voters can also check their registration and polling location at GoVoteWV.com.
“As the County Commissions update the boundaries that impact voters’ polling locations, I invite the public’s involvement in the process,” Warner advised. “A key part of involvement is educating yourself on possible changes and to simply update your voter registration if necessary, which can be done anytime online at GoVoteWV.com.”
Since the last Census in 2010, West Virginia lost more than 60,000 residents, which amounts to a 3.2% loss in total population. As a result, West Virginia lost one of its seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, taking us from three to two seats. At one time, West Virginia had six members in the US House of Representatives.