CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Lunchtime was getting busy for the polling place set up at First Baptist Church Centralia in Chesterfield. It’s one of a handful of locations that’s in a new House of Delegates District, which made a few changes to the ballot for the June Primary.
Twenty-five districts were redrawn this year after a court found 11 were initially drawn in a way that packed black voters into certain areas. This is called racial gerrymandering and it’s considered unconstitutional.
This Chesterfield church used to be in District 62, which was represented by Del. Riley Ingram. The Republican is retiring this year after serving in the House of Delegates since 1992. Now, the polling place is in Democratic Del. Delores McQuinn’s District 70.
Only the Senate District 16 race was in the ballot, between Sen. Rosalyn Dance and Joe Morrissey. If the church was back in its old district, there would have been a House of Delegates Democratic primary on it as well. There were two Democrats running in the primary on Tuesday for the 62nd District: Lindsey M. Dougherty and Tavorise K. Marks. Republican Carrie Coyner is running unopposed. Del. McQuinn is also running unopposed.
Vernia Hawthorne, of Chesterfield, has cast her ballot at the church for years, bringing along her son.
“All families should talk about, you know, the issues in our community, in our state,” she said.
Despite regularly voting, Hawthorne says she didn’t get much information about the district change. When it comes down to it, she says she will put people in office that support her values and community.”
“There is hope for the future, though,” Hawthorne said. “If we keep speaking out, speaking on what we need, what we want.”
House Republicans are challenging these new maps. The Supreme Court of the United States is expected to rule on it in the coming weeks.
“So the question would be whether the Supreme Court would roll them back or remove some of them or change some of them,” Rich Meagher, associate professor of political science at Randolph-Macon College, said.
Meagher says it’s hard to tell what the Supreme Court Justices think about redistricting.
“But the sense is, among people who watch the Supreme Court, is that they’re not going to ask Virginia to do anything with their maps,” Meagher said.
There were 35 primary races in Virginia Tuesday. Come November, all 140 seats in Virginia’s state capitol will be up for a vote.