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W.Va. delegates want boundary confusion cleared up

April 18, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - When Del. Walter Duke campaigned for office last year, he sent letters to people listed in county records as being residents in his would-be district. He later realized some of them were dead, some had moved years before and others had addresses in other states.

Duke, R-Berkeley, and three other delegates from the Panhandle appeared before the Berkeley County Commission Thursday afternoon to ask if something can be done to clear up such confusion.

Duke held up a thick stack of envelopes, saying they were all letters returned to him. Part of the problem lies with people who have not started using their new 911-compatible addresses, Duke said.

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In one precinct, Duke said 17 of the 87 people he tried to contact still were using rural route addresses, which were abolished when new addresses were given to help police, fire and emergency medical responders find people's homes.

A related problem deals with redistricting done last year by the state Legislature. When new lines were drawn to create equally-populated delegate districts, some people were placed in a new district, unbeknownst to them, according to Del. John Overington, R-Berkeley.

Some roads were used as boundaries during redistricting, meaning residents on one side fall into one delegate's district, while people on the other side fall into a separate district. One mobile home park also was cut in half as far as district lines.

Delegates asked if some way existed for them to get a comprehensive list of who lives where. Jerry Yost, with the Martinsburg post office, said he could provide a list of old/new addresses, but not people's names because of privacy laws. Plus, he said postal officials deliver mail based upon the address, not name. Several people might get mail at the same location, he said.

Bonnie Woodfall, with the county's Voter Registration Office, said some dead people or people who have moved might still be listed as residents. She said a purge will be done this fall, allowing county officials to remove those people's names from county records.

During the purge, people who have not been voting will be sent a notice. If they do not reply indicating they are still a resident, Woodfall said their names will be removed in 18 months.

Berkeley County Commission President Howard Strauss suggested that residents whose addresses may have changed check their voter card. If an old address is listed, he said they should stop by the Voter Registration Office to make an address change.

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