Archived Story

Limited voting panel continuing its work

Published 9:00pm Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The committee appointed to determine if the way Beaufort County commissioners are elected can be changed continues its work today.
The committee’s meeting begins at 4 p.m. at the county administrative offices.
The 12-member committee was appointed by the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners to find, if possible, an alternative to the limited-voting method currently used to elect commissioners.
Since 1991, Beaufort County voters have used limited voting to elect commissioners. The method was imposed on the county by an order from a federal judge. The judge issued the order to enforce an agreement between county leaders and a group of black residents concerning the system of electing commissioners.
The committee was formed within two months after Gary Brinn, a first-time commissioner, took office in December. During his campaign for office, Brinn said he would address the limited-voting issue. The county studied the matter in 2003 and again in 2007, but no actions to change limited voting followed those reports.
When the committee met in February, members read the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Brinn said reading the act helped committee members understand why limited voting was imposed on the county. Brinn also asked committee members to review the 2003 study so they could discuss the pros and cons of proposals in that study at today’s meeting.
“We are going to look at the 2003 and 2007 stud(ies) and find what could work from these studies. Then, when we are done, have our 2013 proposal submitted to the commissioners for consideration,” Brinn said after the committee’s February meeting.
Brinn has said many Beaufort County voters do not like limited voting. Under limited voting, voters may vote for only one candidate during an election even though three or four seats on the board are up for grabs.

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