Over 200 county voters who were removed from the Goochland County voter rolls earlier this year are one big step closer to being reinstated, thanks to two measures approved by the county Board of Supervisors last week.
On Aug. 6, board members voted unanimously to begin using the current taxing boundary as the means by which residents are deemed to be qualified voters in Goochland, as opposed to using the census boundary.
The fact that those two boundaries are not the same along Goochland’s border with Louisa — owning, at least in part, to a 250 year old boundary line dispute between the two counties — is what led to the hundreds of voters living along that boundary being told several months ago by the county Electoral Board that, although they paid Goochland taxes and thought of themselves as Goochland residents, they could unfortunately no longer be considered qualified Goochland voters.
The predictable public outcry that followed was acknowledged by the board members, who were forced to admit that they had very little recourse when it came to the matter, and that there was a possibility that the situation might remain unresolved until a new boundary line agreement with Louisa could be presented and certified by the Census Bureau in 2021.
Still, however, work on the problem continued in earnest behind the scenes. And despite several months of chasing leads and coming up against roadblocks, County Attorney Tara McGee announced during the evening portion of board’s August meeting that she and her staff had finally found what appeared to be a viable fix.
If the county would adopt a new electoral map that used the taxing boundary and then update its ordinances accordingly, she explained, the voters who had been pushed out could almost certainly be welcomed back in.
In addition, on Aug. 20 at 2 p.m., a hearing will be held in Goochland County Circuit Court to officially approve a new taxing boundary line agreement with Louisa.
Thursday’s vote does not offer an immediate and totally fail-safe fix, McGee explained, and there are still several parcels she described as “donut holes,” places that actually are registered in the wrong county and will eventually need to have property deeds revised.
For now, however, the news was met with a palpable sense of relief by both county officials and residents alike.
Goochland County Electoral Board Secretary Robin Lind, addressing the board during the public comment period, said that he was “extremely impressed” with the work of McGee’s office, and said he fully supported the actions taken by the board to address the issue.
“I cannot speak for my colleagues, but I am very well assured that we will bring our people home,” Lind said.
Goochland resident Wendy Hobbs, who had repeatedly called on the board members to find a solution to the problem of ousted voters, told them Thursday that the community appreciated their efforts.
“Since May, we have been in turmoil,” Hobbs said. “Some people thought you couldn’t do anything, but you have proven that wrong. This issue crossed all parties and impacted everybody. And you proved that when we put citizens first, we all win.”