What's Your Voting Distict?

August 15, 1994

If you are a Howard County resident living on Northfield Court in the Dunloggin area, you'd have to be forgiven for not knowing what voting district you're in.

Four years ago, when it came to state legislative races, you were in District 14 and your delegates were Robert L. Flanagan and Robert H. Kittleman. Your council district was 2 and your representative was Darrel E. Drown.

This year, you're in Legislative District 12B and you won't even get a chance to vote for Mr. Kittleman or Mr. Flanagan. They're runnlng in 14B. You will, however, get a chance to vote for Mr. Drown again. He's decided to run in District 1, leaving District 2 to incumbent C. Vernon Gray, who currently represents District 3.

All of this confusion has come as a result of changes made since the 1990 Census. And it's not just Northfield Court thrown into disarray. Redistricting has touched nearly every neighborhood in the county. Of the 70 precincts that existed four years ago, all but two were reconfigured under redistricting. The result is 82 precincts in Howard. Neighbors living in the same legislative district could be voting for as many as four different council members.

County election officials say that the confusion over redistricting is part of the reason that voter registration has lagged this year. Apparently not knowing what voting district they're in has left some residents apathetic about voting at all.

The county elections board hopes to rectify the situation by sending sample ballots to all residents approximately 10 days before the Sept. 13 primary and again before the Nov. 8 general election. That's helpful, but unfortunately the ballots will come several weeks after the deadline for new registrations has passed.

Of course, voter apathy has many other causes. Interest diminishes when there is no presidential race. The fact that two County Council contests have no incumbent seeking re-election has to be weighed against the lackluster campaigning of those who are running.

And then, of course, there is the personal responsibility of all citizens to inform themselves about the elections that affect them. We suggest calling the elections board or attending a candidates forum. They're listed in this paper every day.

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