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Friday, September 30th, 2011

Celina council views proposed precinct changes

By William Kincaid
CELINA - Mercer County Board of Elections staff presented a new precinct proposal to city council members this week that was met with general approval.
The board of elections must make some changes to the city's precincts due to House Bill 194, which passed this summer and requires incorporated municipalities to have at least 500 active registered voters in a precinct. The city's precincts vary in voter population from 390 to 1,122; the fewest are in Celina B (Johnson Avenue area in the center of the city).
"The new precincts maintain the dividing line of Main Street as the boundary between the east and west sides," a board of elections report states.
By reducing the city's precincts from 10 to 8, voters would be more evenly divided and less poll workers would be needed, saving taxpayers $1,136 per election, elections deputy director Laura Bruns told council.
Under the latest proposal, the districts would vary in size between 743 voters in precinct H to 1,005 voters in precinct B. Precincts A101, A102 and A103 would be eliminated and combined with other precincts. These precincts cover the housing areas on both sides of Myers Road to the Eaglebrooke housing subdivision.
The board of elections has final say on precinct changes while ward changes are at the discretion of city council.
The city has four wards, and all ward council seats - held by Angie King, Ed Jeffries, Mike Sovinski and Myron Buxton - are up for re-election in 2013.
Bruns asked council to consider changing ward lines to adhere to precinct changes. Otherwise, some precincts could be split into different wards.
"It just would be a lot easier for everybody involved," Bruns said.  
Councilman Mike Sovinski said he likes the draft map but suggested reducing the amount of voters in the proposed new C district, which would have 862 active voters and 143 inactive voters. Sovinski said that area on the east side of town has potential for growth.
Bruns said board officials tried to make the precincts as "nice and clean" as possible.
"We're open for public feedback right now," board of elections director Deb Sneddon said.
The map is viewable at the board of elections office, located on the first floor of the Mercer County Courthouse.
Councilman Jeff Larmore said as soon as the board of elections changes the precinct lines, council could create new ward boundaries.
"This is going to be big," councilman June Scott said while addressing his concerns about the possibility of voter confusion.
Sneddon reminded Scott that precinct changes won't take effect until the primary election next year. Voters will receive a postcard from the board of elections notifying them of changes.
If approved, the changes would include:
• Combining A101 and B to become the new A.
• Changing the name of A103 to B.
• Combining A102 with a portion of C to become the new C.
• Combining the remainder of C with D to create the new D.
• Combining E with a portion of F to become the new E.
• Combining the remainder of F with a portion of G to become the new F.
• Combining the remainder of G with a portion of H to become the new G.
• Combining the remainder of H with a small portion of G to become the new H.

Current precincts:
Active   Inactive   Total
voters  voters voters
A101  508  69  577
A102  694  71  765
A103  837  130  967
B  348  42  390
C  593  110  703
D  400  112  512
E  523  103  626
F  603  122  725
G  683  138  821
H  993  129  1,122

Proposed precincts:
Active   Inactive   Total
voters  voters voters
A  856  111  967
B  837  130  967
C  862  143  1,005
D  825  150  975
E  642  166  808
F  713  157  870
G  722  151  873
H  725  18  743
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