Election decision aims to follow law

Published 6:44 am Thursday, January 26, 2012

Probate Judge Wes Allen says he just wants to follow the law … and run a smooth election.

And to do that, he and the other members of the Board of Supervisors who oversee elections had to make a difficult decision this week: Primary elections will move ahead on March 13 under existing district lines.

That may sound confusing for voters and some candidates in the Pike County Commission and Pike County Board of Education races, but Allen’s plan follows precedent – and logic.

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Because of the deadlines set forth by the state for holding an election – including preparation and availability of absentee ballots 40 days before the primary date– Allen needs to be able to prepare voter lists by districts now.

But no one knows just where those final district lines will be.

The county and Board of Education drafted one set of district lines and submitted those to the DOJ for approval in the fall. But they were rejected, and the entities had to return to the drawing board and redraw the lines earlier this year. The second set of lines has been submitted to the DOJ for approval, but the federal department has up to 60 days to approve the districts – and that deadline pushes up against the March 13 primary.

So, with an Attorney General’s opinion and the precedent set by other counties with similar issues, the supervisors decided to move ahead with party primaries in the existing districts.

That means you’ll vote the same place you did in 2010 for the primary and any run-off election. It’s likely that the new districts will be approved and in place for the November general election, so hundreds of Pike County residents will switch districts at that point.

Confusing? A bit. But necessary, Allen believes, to avoid potential challenges of the election.