The County wants you to know about District Elections

Since this is Orange County and since the primaries are already over, it's easy to think that the November election will be another ho-hum approval of the Democratic slate. This year that is not the case. In addition to a very competitive judicial race, Orange County voters will be asked to weigh in on a ballot measure to change the way we elect County Commissioners.

While I am quite ambivalent about this proposal, the County is not. They have appointed a District Election Education Committee (meeting Wednesday 10/18 at 5 pm at the OWASA building on Jones Ferry Road), will be holding two public forums on the proposal (7pm 10/18 at OWASA in Carrboro & 7pm 11/1/06 at Battle Courtroom in Hillsborough, and have established a website (!

In 1954 the Orange County Board of Commissioners was expanded from three members to five members. Prior to and since that time, Commissioners have been elected “at large,” which means all registered Orange County voters could select from all candidates.

On November 7, 2006, the people of Orange County will decide if there will be changes in the way in which the Board of Commissioners is constituted and elected.

A referendum proposes to increase the Board from five to seven members. This same referendum splits Orange County into two voting districts.

District 1 would consist of the southern two-thirds of Chapel Hill Township. The divider line generally runs along I-40 east of Hwy 86 and the Chapel Hill – Carrboro School District boundary west of Hwy 86. (A detailed description of the boundary is contained in the wording of the referendum.)

District 2 would be the remainder of Orange County.

Three Board members would reside in District 1, two members would reside in District 2, and two members would be elected At-Large and may live anywhere in Orange County.

In the Primary Election, only residents of a District may vote for the Commissioner candidate or candidates of their political party who reside in that District and seek to represent that District.

All eligible voters in Orange County may vote in the Primary for At-Large candidates of their political party.

For the General Election, all Orange County voters can vote for the candidate(s) to represent District 1, District 2, and At-Large.

Commissioners would continue to serve four-year terms staggered with approximately one-half of the Board members elected every two years.
- Orange County
Board of County Commissioners District Election Information for November 7, 2006 Referendum

Unfortunately with only 2 districts covering the entire county, it won't change very much. I am personally torn between feeling a strong need for change and feeling that this proposal is ineffective and that approving it will reduce the possibility of ever changing the system again for at least 10-20 years.




Thanks for including the District Election Referendum on the site for discussion. I encourage all voters to vote "YES" to approve the Referendum. We have more to gain than we have to lose by improving the opportunity for broader representation on the board.

The BOCC adopted the proposed plan after more than a year of study and hearings. Electing Commissioners in the manner proposed will address the recurring concerns of rural residents for more geographical representation on the board without compromising the one-person/one vote constitutional requirement we hold so dear. Our current system has been in place since 1954.

The proposed plan includes two districts in which candidates must live when seeking election while also allowing candidates who seek the At-large seats to live anywhere in the county.

District 1 includes three seats and covers the southern 2/3 of Chapel Hill Township. District 2 includes two seats and covers the remainder of the county. Two At-large seats will allow persons seeking them to live anywhere in the county.

In the Primary election, only residents of a district may vote for candidates of their political party who reside in that district while all voters may vote for At-Large candidates of their political party.

In the General election, all county voters may vote for candidates seeking office in districts one, two and At-large.

Upon passage, the plan would be implemented in 2008 with the election of four (4) members to increase the board to 7. The three seats to be filled this year will be up for election again in 2010.

The current BOCC is asking the people of Orange County to decide on the way commissioners are elected because we believe county residents have more to gain than lose by approving this referendum. Increasing opportunities for participation in the democatic process has served the nation and county well in the past and stands to do so in this instance.


Moses Carey

I'm on the hot seat tomorrow as pro-referendum Moses Carey (and legions of Orange County staffers) try to counter my pro-democracy arguments against redistricting ;-)

Seriously, if folks walk away understanding how this redistricting actually diminishes "small d" democracy, distorts voter-power and that other, better, alternatives were not adequately entertained, I'll be satisfied.

ELECTION FORUM -- The League of Women Voters-ODC will host an educational forum on the November referendum on district elections for Orange County commissioners at 7 p.m. in the Orange Water and Sewer Authority conference room, 400 Jones Ferry Road in Carrboro. A second forum is scheduled for Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in the F. Gordon Battle Courtroom, 106 E. Margaret Lane in Hillsborough.

BTW, I might not be able to make the Nov. 1st meeting. Anyone else interested in publicly countering the referendum?



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