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Prince William is outgrowing its voting precincts

WOODBRIDGE — Elections officials in Prince William County are warning of continued long lines at voting precincts due to population growth, according to public documents.

The Board of Supervisors this month denied a request to set a public hearing to allow for the creation of five new voting precincts and corresponding polling places, as well as shift precinct boundaries. By law, the changes would have needed to have been made by September 8, enough time (60 days) before the November 7 General Election.

In this off-year election when, traditionally, lines are shorter, voters will head to the polls to select a new governor, candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates, and municipal offices in Manassas and Manassas Park.

After the Presidential Election of Barack Obama in 2012, long voter lines in Prince William County got congressional attention.

None of Prince William County’s 92 voting precincts may have more than 5,000 registered voters, according to state law. Four precincts were found to have more than 4,000 voters as of July 1:

Marsteller Precinct in the Brentsville Magisterial District — 4,471 voters

Proposed fix, from county documents:

The voters in this precinct will be split three ways. The school will become a super precinct; whereas, it contains two precincts within one polling place location. Approximately one-third of the remaining voters will go to a newly established polling place at a different location.

a. Marstellar Precinct Marstellar Middle School will continue to serve the Marstellar precinct. The auxiliary gym will continue to be the voting location within the school. It will serve approximately 1,836 registered voters who are in Senate District 29.

b. Manor Precinct – Marstellar Middle School will also be the location for the new precinct, which will be called the Manor precinct. The auxiliary gym will be the voting location within the school. It will serve approximately 1,836 registered voters who are in Senate District 29.

c. Dunbarton Precinct – Dunbarton Club located at 9600 Craighill Drive, Bristow, VA 20136 will be the new polling place. It will become the Dunbarton precinct. Voters will use the Ballroom as their voting location within the Clubhouse. It will serve approximately 800 registered voters who are in the Senate District split of 13 and 29.

Bristow Run Precinct in the Brenstville Magisterial District — 4,829 voters

Proposed fix, from county documents:

The voters in this precinct will be split in half. The school will become a super precinct; whereas, it will contain two precincts within one polling place location.

a. Bristow Run Precinct – Bristow Run Elementary School will continue to serve the Bristow Run precinct. The cafeteria / gymnasium will continue to be the voting location within the school. This precinct will serve approximately 2,415 registered voters.

b. Worthington Precinct – Bristow Run Elementary School will also be the location for the new precinct, which will be called the Worthington precinct. The cafeteria / gymnasium will be the voting location within the school. This precinct will serve approximately 2,415 registered voters.

Yorkshire Precinct in the Coles Magisterial District — 4,384 voters

Proposed fix, from county documents:

The voters in this precinct will be split in half; along the Senate District split of 29 and 39. Voters who are in Senate District 29 will stay at Yorkshire and the voters who are in Senate District 39 will be moved to a new polling place. These changes will address the current split precinct.

a. Yorkshire Precinct – Yorkshire Elementary School will continue to be the polling place location for the Yorkshire precinct. Voters will continue to use the gymnasium as their voting location within the school. This precinct will now serve 3,196 registered voters who are in Senate District 29.

b. Parkside Precinct – Parkside Middle School located at 8602 Mathis Avenue, Manassas, VA 20110 will be the new polling place location. It will be called the Parkside precinct. The auxiliary gym will be the voting location within the school. It will serve approximately 1,188 registered voters who are in Senate District 39.

Potomac Precinct in the Potomac Magisterial District — 4,505 voters

Proposed fix, from county documents: 

The voters in this precinct will be split in half. One-half of the voters will remain at the Potomac precinct and the other half will be moved to a new polling place.

a. Potomac Precinct – Potomac High School will continue to be the polling place location for the Potomac precinct. Voters will continue to use the band room as their designated voting location within the school building. The precinct will now serve approximately 2,253 registered voters.

b. Williams Precinct – Mary Williams Elementary School located at 3100 Panther Pride Drive, Dumfries, VA 22026 will be the new polling place. It will be called the Williams precinct. The gymnasium will be the voting location within the school. It will serve approximately 2,253 registered voters.

Prince William County General Registrar Micllele White asked to hold a public hearing about the changes at the next Board of Supervisors meeting Sept. 5. But With so many families on vacation, and with the supervisors’ summer recess, “this is simply not the right time to do this,” said Brentsville District Supervisor Jeanine Lawson.

The Board of Supervisors could take up this issue again in January. If the changes are made, the move will increase the number of voting precincts from 92 to 97. There are five absentee voting precincts.

The cost of creating the four new precincts will cost $125,000. The cost estimate includes election officer pay and the new voting equipment needed for the new precincts.

Lawson and Gainesville Supervisor Peter Candland suggested using their respective district offices as absentee in-person polling places.

“We don’t have a lot of facilities on the western end of the county, and we need to do all we can to promote early voting,” said Candland.

Available office space in western Prince William County is scarce.

“We’re looking at the direction of the Supervisors, but we haven’t seen much out there, yet,” said Prince William County Office of Elections spokesman Winston Forrest.

Ideally, a polling place would be on the first floor of a building in space owned or leased by the county, handicapped accessible, with a secure place to store ballots.

Lawson’s office is located on a one-level building in a business park at Innovation Park near Manassas. Candland’s office is on the second floor of an office building at Heritage Village Plaza in Gainesville.

Of the five absentee voting locations in Prince William, two are on the west side of the county and include the Haymarket-Gainesville Library and the Prince William Office of Elections in Manassas. Locations on the east end include the Woodbridge DMV, McCoart Building, and the Ferlazzo Building.

Absentee voting at the Office of Elections and Woodbridge DMV will be held Sept. 22 through Nov. 4. Absentee voting at all other places is Oct. 23 through Nov. 4. 

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  • Over the years, the population has grown in Prince William County and so we have allot more traffic and crowded schools.

    There were no lines when I went to vote for president in Nov 2016. It was pretty quite, only a few people there voting. I vote at the Kilby School. The old building has been torn down as they have built a new building, so this year I will be voting in the new building

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