Precinct consolidation may save $18,000+
By Stephanie Johns
More than $18,000 could be saved during a presidential election year if a proposed precinct consolidation takes place.
Members of the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration discussed details of going from 11 precincts to five at their December meeting.
Elections Supervisor Bobby Howington noted that the change could save more than $18,000 in personnel costs during a presidential election year. Added benefits include an estimated $910 reduction in costs associated with printing ballots.
During mid-term election years, they could experience a possible savings of $13,194, he said.
Board Member David Moore added that the costs associated with delivering, picking up and paying mileage to have voting machines at 11 precincts would be reduced.
Costs associated with the changes would include about $3,956.16 in postage to mail out new voter cards, $200 for two public hearings and $91 for two newspaper ads.
Howington said the price for postage will increase by a penny at the end of January so if they wait until after then, it would cost a bit more in postage.
He noted that 2013 would be the year to make these changes.
Deputy Registrar Sue DoorenBos later explained that because 2013 is neither a presidential election year nor a state election year, it would be better to make any changes during 2013 than in 2014, which would be a state election year.
“Odd-numbered years, when the cities hold their elections, are the best time to make changes to precinct boundaries,” she said.
Howington said that eight other counties – Butts, Dawson, Habersham, Lumpkin, Muscogee, Polk, Rabun, and Stephens – already have reduced or are in the process of reducing the number of precincts in their counties.
Representatives from two of those boards – Habersham and Rabun – said they would be happy to talk to the Morgan County board about the changes they made, Howington said.
He noted the county’s municipalities would stay the same.
Possible objections to the changes, Howington said, include the possibility of longer drives for some voters.
“But with increased participation in early voting, there may not be much objection,” he said.
Chairman George Holt agreed.
“As far as disenfranchising people, that’s taken away by early voting and absentee voting,” he said. “I’m all for giving it a shot.”
Board Member John Milliken said he was concerned about going to only five precincts and would be more comfortable with seven. He suggested the two additional precincts could go in at Madison to accommodate all of the city limits.
Board Member Avery Jackson said there would be an optimum number of precincts. Going beyond that would mean less savings. He added that he wanted to get more input from the public.
“People want savings but they’re also territorial,” he said.
In the end, Holt suggested they think about the possible changes over the holidays and consider meeting for a work session in January. No vote was taken and no work session details were determined.
Printed in the December 27, 2012 edition