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Voting precincts in Portsmouth highlight redistricting, voter confusion ahead of high-profile race

State Sens. Louise Lucas and Lionell Spruill will challenge each other for the party nomination after redrawn legislative boundaries will force against each other.
Credit: WVEC

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The two sides of Cedar Lane in Portsmouth separate more than just the two sides of the street.

They demonstrate the "old" from the "new" when it comes to voter redistricting in the city. 

This June, Democratic State Sens. Louise Lucas and Lionell Spruill will challenge each other for the party nomination after recently redrawn legislative boundaries will force the two long-time Hampton Roads lawmakers against one another. 

At the heart of the redistricting change is Portsmouth's 36th voting precinct, on the east side of Cedar Lane encompassing the area around Churchland High School.

According to Director of Elections Alexandra Abell, the 36th precinct is made up of roughly 3,000 voters, formerly located in Senate District 18 and represented by Sen. Lucas.

"One of our largest precincts," she told 13News Now. "Highest or second highest turnout on election day."

Now, Abell says some voters there are looking to cast early votes in the Spruill-Lucas race, not knowing that they're no longer part of that Senate District. 

Precinct 36 is now a part of Senate District 17, which only has a Republican primary this year. 

In addition, Precinct 37 (Churchland Middle School), Precinct 38 (Grove Baptist Church) and Precinct 39 (Churchland Primary and Intermediate) are also in the 17th Senate District. Precincts 37 through 39 were previously in Senate District 2. 

Abell says Precinct 36 represents what could be a reoccurring dilemma for many Virginians across this election cycle, where they're unaware of being drawn out of their long-time voting precinct. 

“It’s throughout the Commonwealth, citizens need to look up their voter registration information," she said. 

This election cycle also marks the first time Virginians will see a 45-day early voting window ahead of a full Legislature election. So far, Abell says the city has already seen more than 800 early votes cast in person. 

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