Changes to precincts may affect 45K voters – Toledo Blade

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More than 45,000 Ohio voters in Lucas County would be affected by a plan to consolidate voting precincts that was discussed Tuesday by the Lucas County Board of Elections.

The four-member governing board reviewed the proposed changes in its regular meeting but postponed its vote. The changes have to be approved by July 15 for them to take effect by the Sept. 12 municipal primary elections.

In all, the number of county precincts would drop from 332 to 312.

Board members were disturbed to learn the precinct information had been posted on the website of a political activist group, the Toledo Tea Party, and instructed the director, LaVera Scott, to make sure proposed agenda material is available to them before it is made public.

VIDEO: Tom Troy on Lucas Co. Board of Elections

Members also said the changes were too significant to have a vote Tuesday with little time to understand them.

Board member Joshua Hughes noted that the changes relocate polling from three heavily used locations in Oregon — New Harvest Church to Oregon Municipal Building, St. Paul Episcopal Church to Starr Elementary School, and Heritage Church to Oregon Public Library.

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More people could vote at the Oregon Municipal Building, pictured in March, 2016, if changes to Lucas Co. elections precincts are passed.

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“Those are huge polling locations. St. Paul Episcopal Church is busy from sun-up to sundown, and while Starr Elementary is a more logistically sensible place to have it, still it’s a whole new location,” Mr. Hughes said.

Ms. Scott said the changes were recommended because of problems with some locations such as not being handicapped accessible or conflicts with other events or with renovations.

The precinct changes are expected to save money by reducing the number of election workers. They will change the voting practices of 45,760 voters, out of 301,049 total voters, who may find their traditional voting location has been changed.

Another change, which will affect the two major political parties, is that it will eliminate 20 precinct committeeman posts. The county parties are governed by the precinct committeemen, who meet every two years after the state primary election to elect party chairmen.

The largest impacts of the proposed changes would be in Maumee, where 12 precincts are being downsized to nine precincts, affecting 7,848 voters, and Springfield Township, where 19 precincts will be consolidated to 16 precincts, affecting 7,097 people.

Similar consolidations are planned in Ottawa Hills, Sylvania, and Waterville and the townships of Jerusalem, Spencer, Sylvania, Washington, and Waterville.

Precincts may have no more than 1,400 voters. Some have as few as 300 or 400, Ms. Scott said, and that includes inactive voters.

Because of its population growth, Monclova Township will not lose a precinct but will see two of its voting locations closed: the township administration building and Waterside Clubhouse. New polling places are slated as Heritage Church of God and Monclova Elementary School.

In Toledo, eight precincts are being “resized,” with hundreds of voters being moved into neighboring precincts with new polling locations. Precincts affected are 12E, 9B, 19B, 12G, 17A, 15G, 3B, and 1D.

Also to be changed are three polling locations in Toledo. Voters in Precinct 10B will vote at the Lucas County EMS Training Center instead of The Plaza. Voters in 21A and 21B will cast ballots at DeVeaux Elementary School instead of Aldersgate United Methodist Church. And voters in 22G now using Hope Methodist Church will vote at Christ Presbyterian Church.

Also Tuesday, newly appointed Republican board member David Karmol participated for the first time. Mr. Karmol fills the year remaining in the term of Republican James Hartley, who was removed by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

The board certified the candidacies of Beau Miller for Jerusalem Township trustee, Terrance Reeves for Oregon City Council, David Carpenter, Jr., for Springfield Township trustee, and Louis Kovacs for Oregon municipal judge.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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