Hearing on voting option set for Aug. 5Published 11:17pm Saturday, July 6, 2013
The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners will conduct a public hearing on a proposed alternative to the limited-voting method used to elect commissioners in the county.
The hearing will be held Aug. 5, the next scheduled meeting of the board.
The proposed option, submitted to the board by the Beaufort County Limited Voting Committee with a 6-2 vote of endorsement, recommends that in elections when four seats on the seven-member board are open for election, that voters are allowed to vote for two candidates, and in elections when three seats on the board are up for grabs, voters may vote for only one candidate. That plan is derived from a study in 2007.
The panel considered two other options. One option retained the current seven-member configuration but with commissioners elected from districts (one commissioner per district) across the county. The other option called for four commissioners to be elected from districts, with one commissioner elected from each district. That option provided for three commissioners to be elected at-large across the county.
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.
Under limited voting, a voter may vote for only one candidate no matter how many seats on the seven-member board are up for grabs in any election to choose board members. Currently, four board members are elected every four years, with three board members elected every four years. The two elections are held two years apart, providing staggered four-year terms for the commissioners.
Commissioner Gary Brinn is chairman of the committee.
“I would like to show my appreciation to Sylvester Riddick and Ed Hamrick, who were on the committee, for the amount of input they had — on both sides of the fence. We really do appreciate that. It made everything worthwhile. They were steadfast in their beliefs. I really appreciate the fact they were on (the committee), and they were a great help,” Brinn said.