Supervisors wise to keep districts same

Published 12:01 am Saturday, June 8, 2019

Measure twice. Cut once.

County officials demonstrated this week how the often-used expression in carpentry, might also apply in the world of politics.

When Adams County supervisors approved the reapportionment of voting districts in 2001, they relied on experts to provide accurate maps and legal descriptions of the areas. For years, the county relied on the maps to determine in which districts residents vote.

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Recently the county decided to create a digital map of voting districts using the legal description as a guide. In doing so, election officials discovered a discrepancy between the maps and legal descriptions that affected approximately 45 voters.

Adams County Election Commissioner Larry Gardner notified the Board of Supervisors of the discrepancy in April. He then sent notices to the voters affected that they would be voting in another district. 

The letters upset some residents and county officials who expressed concerns that a change was being made so close to this year’s county elections. Their concerns are understandable, and the supervisors’ move to keep the voting districts as they have been since 2001 is the right thing to do. Even the Attorney General’s office in Jackson recommended to the County Attorney Scott Slover that the boundaries should remain as is.

Slover said supervisors could not legally adjust voting districts one month before the qualification deadline, which has already passed. Slover said the boundaries are likely to be revised in 2020 when the U.S. census numbers are completed.

Mistakes are bound to happen in a process as complicated as drawing up voter districts. But now is not the time to make changes.  Our advice to county officials is to wait until 2020 to make the changes necessary to ensure the population of voters is equally distributed between districts.

When new districts are drawn, every effort to prevent such mistakes is needed to avoid confusion.

As any carpenter will tell you — measure twice, cut once.