Registrar: Smithfield election move should save money

Published 4:31 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Moving Smithfield’s Town Council election to coincide with the November 2022 congressional midterms should save the town several thousand dollars, according to Isle of Wight County Voter Registrar Lisa Betterton.

Historically, Smithfield has held separate elections in May every two years for the purpose of electing a slate of candidates to three or four available at-large Town Council seats. According to Betterton, the town typically incurs expenses ranging from $3,000 to $3,500 to do so.

But since that equipment will already be set up for county-wide elections in November, and registrar’s office personnel will already be working late into the night to report county results, the town can expect to save on those costs by combining its elections with the county’s onto a single November ballot.

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A change to state law now requires all localities with May elections to move them to the first Tuesday of November.

Per the new law, mayors and members of council who were last elected in May and whose terms would otherwise expire on June 30 will be allowed to remain in office until their successors have been elected in November and have been qualified to serve.

The move should also increase voter turnout, according to Deputy Registrar Victoria Mainwaring. According to past reporting by The Smithfield Times during the 2021 General Assembly session, legislators who supported the change in state law argued voter turnout is typically low for May elections. Opponents, however, argued the move would increase partisan polarization in local elections and divert voters’ attention from local issues to statewide and national ones.

Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams council members Wayne Hall, Valerie Butler and Beth Haywood are set to stand for election next year. Council members Michael Smith, Renee Rountree and Randy Pack, who were last elected in 2020, will stand for their next election in 2024.