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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

Franklin County likely to remain in 5th Congressional District

Monday, April 11, 2011

By JOEL TURNER - Staff Writer

The Fifth Congressional District in Virginia would take on a new look under a redistricting plan that has been introduced in the General Assembly.

The revamped district would extend from the North Carolina border north to Fauquier County in northern Virginia.

The 5th District, which is now represented by Republican Robert Hurt of Chatham, would include all of Franklin County, Pittsylvania County and Danville, but only part of Henry County.

The 5th District would include the Axton, Irisburg, Mountain Valley, Mountain View and Ridgeway voting precincts in Henry County.

But the rest of Henry County, including the City of Martinsville, would be placed in the 9th District, which is now represented by Republican Morgan Griffith of Salem.

The redistricting plan also puts Salem and Griffith's home in Salem in the 9th District. Griffith's home is currently outside the 9th District.

The 5th District would still include the Albemarle County and Charlottesville area. It would extend north to Madison, Rappahannock and Fauquier counties.

The General Assembly will vote this week on the redistricting plan for Virginia's 11 congressional districts.

The General Assembly is also redistricting Virginia's legislative districts.

On the House of Delegates redistricting, the House has approved its redistricting plan. The 9th House District, which is now represented by Del.Charles Poindexter, a Republican from Franklin County, would be restructured to include Franklin County, part of western Henry County and all of Patrick County.

On the Senate redistricting, the Senate, on a party line vote of 22-18, has approved the Senate redistricting plan that was proposed by the Democrats.

If the House of Delegates approves the Senate plan, the bill will go to Gov. Robert McDonnell for approval, veto or he could make changes.

The 19th Senate District would be changed dramatically under the redistricting plan. The district would extend from Smith Mountain Lake to Carroll and Wythe counties.

The Senate plan would split Franklin County, which is now represented by Sen. Bill Stanley, a Republican, between the 19th and 20th District, which is now represented by Sen. Roscoe Reynolds, a Democrat from Henry County.

Stanley, who won a special election earlier this year, would be placed in a restructured 19th District that would include part of Franklin County, Salem, Floyd County and parts of Roanoke County, Montgomery County, Carroll County and Wythe County.

Republicans oppose the Senate plan. Republicans said that the Senate approval of the plan is just one step in a process that won't be complete until McDonnell signs a redistricting plan and the U.S. Justice Department approves it. The plan could also be challenged in court.

Under the redistricting plan, the following Franklin County voting precincts would be in the 20th District: Dickinson, Fork Mountain, Snow Creek and Sontag.

The following precincts would be in the 19th Senate District: Bonbrook, Boones Mill, Bowmans, Burnt Chimney, Callaway, Cooper's Cove, Dudley, Endicott, Ferrum, Gogginsville and Scruggs.

Depending on the final boundaries for the Senate districts, some voting precincts in Rocky Mount and Franklin County might be split between the 19th and 20th Virginia Senate Districts, depending on the final boundaries for the Senate districts in the plan.

In the plan that was approved by Senate Democrats on the 22-18 vote, eight current voting precincts in Rocky Mount and Franklin County would be split between the two Senate districts.

The split precincts would be Glade Hill, Henry, Hodgesville, Penhook, Rocky Mount East, Rocky Mount South, Rocky Mount West and Waidsboro.

Splitting voting precincts could make it difficult for election officials. In each split precinct, election officials would need to have two sets of voting machines and two sets of poll books.

Election officials said that it could also be confusing for voters to know which district they live in.

State legislators are still tweaking the redistricting plan, and the final decision on split precincts should be made clear later this week.

Federal law requires the General Assembly to redraw legislative and congressional districts every 10 years to comply with the one-person, one-vote mandate.

After the General Assembly approves the new boundaries, they will face review by Gov.McDonnell and the U.S. Department of Justice.

McDonnell could veto or propose amendments to the redistricting plans. McDonnell has said that he wanted a "more open and fair process" for redistricting.

Courts have upheld redistricting plans that protect political incumbents. But Virginia is under the federal Voting Rights Act, meaning the Justice Department will review the plan.

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