Council votes to approve new precincts with two new polling places

Charlottesville City Council has voted to approve changes to the boundaries for voting precincts in the city, which includes two new precincts and the elimination of two others. 

Under the new map, Alumni Hall and Tonsler Park would no longer be places to vote. Charlottesville High School and Jackson-Via Elementary School would be added. 

“Both of these precincting places are wonderful,” said Anne Hemmenway, a former member of the Charlottesville Electoral Board who chaired the reprecincting committee. “Jackson-Via is very accessible to a large neighborhood around it.  The voting area is large. The parking area is plentiful and they have a wonderful circle area for our people that vote curbside.” 

Voting at Charlottesville High School will be in the atrium. 

“We are losing two polling places that the community has gotten used to over the last ten years but we’re acquiring two that the city of Charlottesville will be extremely happy with,” Hemmenway said.  

Tonsler has limited parking and is a small facility, and Alumni Hall is not owned by the city. 

Charlottesville Registrar Taylor Yowell said she received three comments during the 30-day public feedback period. 

“One was a resident of the Alumni Hall neighborhood and two were residents of the Tonsler Park precinct area,” Yowell said. “All three were concerned with changing precincts and removing walkability.” 

Yowell said she feels that more people will be able to walk to Buford than Tonsler but she recognized that some people will be inconvenienced. 

Deputy City Attorney Katrina Callsen—also a candidate for the Democratic nomination in new the 54th House District—acknowledged that schools named after people are likely to be changed. The Venable and Clark precincts are already out of synch with the elementary school in which the ballot box is physically located. 

“We still think its better to move forward with the existing names of the schools for now but I did want you to know that we had done some research and we do not anticipate having to go through this process again when the names of the schools change,” Callsen said. 

Now that Council has approved the new precincts, they will go into effect on April 7. Callsen said after that there is still a 30 day period where people can bring challenges if they have concerns. The intent is to have them in place before early voting begins for the June 20, 2023 primary. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the March 8, 2023 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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