Orange County

Board of County Commissioners

District Election Information for

November 7, 2006 Referendum




-         Election By District Explained


-         Questions and Answers


-         Electoral Districts Map


-         Electoral Districts Map zoomed with details for border


-         Contact



Election By District Explained


In 1954 the Orange County Board of Commissioners was expanded from three members to five members.  Prior to and since that time, Commissioners have been elected “at large,” which means all registered Orange County voters could select from all candidates. 


On November 7, 2006, the people of Orange County will decide if there will be changes in the way in which the Board of Commissioners is constituted and elected.


A referendum proposes to increase the Board from five to seven members.  This same referendum splits Orange County into two voting districts. 


District 1 would consist of the southern two-thirds of Chapel Hill Township.  The divider line generally runs along I-40 east of Hwy 86 and the Chapel Hill – Carrboro School District boundary west of Hwy 86.  (A detailed description of the boundary is contained in the wording of the referendum.)


District 2 would be the remainder of Orange County. 


Three Board members would reside in District 1, two members would reside in District 2, and two members would be elected At-Large and may live anywhere in Orange County. 


In the Primary Election, only residents of a District may vote for the Commissioner candidate or candidates of their political party who reside in that District and seek to represent that District.


All eligible voters in Orange County may vote in the Primary for At-Large candidates of their political party.


For the General Election, all Orange County voters can vote for the candidate(s) to represent District 1, District 2, and At-Large. 


Commissioners would continue to serve four-year terms staggered with approximately one-half of the Board members elected every two years. 





Questions and Answers


Q: Why don’t both districts have the same number of Commissioners representing the district?

A:  Constitutional requirements include “one person, one vote”, meaning one person’s vote cannot have more impact than another’s vote.  With 5 seats representing districts (the 2 At-Large seats are not considered in this equation) and a total Orange County population of around 115,000 people, each commissioner seat must represent one fifth of the population or about 23,000 residents, with no more than a 5% variation from that target.  District 1 has a population of 71,389 (3.0% variation) and District 2 has a population of 44,142 (4.5% variation). 


Q: What will happen if the referendum does not get approval of a majority of the voters?

A: The Board will remain at 5 members and the method of electing commissioners will not change.


Q: If district elections passes, how will it be implemented?

A: Four commissioners would be elected in 2008. This includes the 2 commissioner seats whose terms expire that year plus two new seats.  There would be two seats in District 1, one seat in District 2, and one seat At- Large.

   Three commissioners would be elected in 2010, the end of the term for the remaining 3 commissioners.  There would be one seat in District 1, one seat in District 2, and one At-Large seat. 


Q: Will this boundary change in the future?

A: Only a 5% variation is allowed to meet the “one person, one vote” requirement.  District boundaries could change after each 10-year census if population proportions change. 


Q: Why can’t each of the seven townships be considered a district with one Commissioner each?

A:  Constitutional requirements include “one person, one vote”.  The Chapel Hill Township alone, represents two-thirds of the population of Orange County. 



Contact Information


For additional information on the District Election Referendum to alter the structure and mode of electing the Orange County Board of Commissioners –


Contact: Donna Baker, Clerk to the Board