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Tazewell County residents to vote in Russell County

Tazewell County residents to vote in Russell County

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WARDELL, Va. – Several Tazewell County residents moved to Russell County last week without a choice in the matter.

Tom Lester, chairman of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors said Oct. 7 that over 20 people living on County Line road received letters from the Russell County voter registrar informing them they will now vote in Russell County.

Lester said the letters informing the people of the change said it was done by the State Board of Elections after an audit in preparation for redistricting. Lester said the audit determined residents of one side of County Line Road were in Russell County and would be in house district four instead of Tazewell County and in house district three.

Will Morefield of Tazewell represents house district three and William Wampler III represents district four. The people were notified a month before the Nov. 2 election.

Lester asked his fellow supervisors to approve his motion to “engage the Russell County Board of Supervisors and request that we do boundary adjustments that will keep intact the original understanding of our boundaries; likewise, should the same situation occur for Russell County citizens the same would be done. This would essentially resolve the problem and allow our citizens to vote in the county in which they historically have regarded as home,’ he said.

“The impacted citizens live and have been paying taxes in a subdivision that was approved by Tazewell County in 1968. The homes they live in are deeded in Tazewell County. Their children attend Tazewell County schools. The security of their property and their safety are serviced by Tazewell County Law Enforcement and EMS. Historically, this community has always considered themselves citizens of Tazewell County,’ Lester said in a letter to his fellow supervisors.

 Commissioner of Revenue Dave Anderson said the people are properly assessed for taxes by Tazewell County. “Unfortunately, the taxing statutes and voting statutes are not necessarily complimentary,’ Lester said.  Lester, who is legislative assistant to State Senator Travis Hackworth said he asked the Senate Legislative Services division for an opinion.

The Division of Legislative Services is the legislative branch agency created statutorily by the General Assembly to provide nonpartisan legal and general research services to members of the General Assembly and its standing committees in the House of Delegates and Senate.

They determined there is no legal inconsistency with having citizens pay taxes in one county and vote in another. It is highly unlikely that a legislative solution could be enacted or passed. Therefore, I am proposing to our Board that we engage the Russell County Board of Supervisors and request that we do boundary adjustments that will keep intact the original understanding of our boundaries; likewise, should the same situation occur for Russell County citizens the same would be done. This would essentially resolve the problem and allow our citizens to vote in the county in which they historically have regarded as home.

Lester asked that his motion  be voted on and placed on the Consent Calendar for November, and entertaining more discussion at that time. “This will not fix the problem for this election, but it would be going forward in following elections,’ his letter said.

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