News-Messenger reports July 29, 2009



Board may cut 14 voting precincts



FREMONT -- The Sandusky County Board of Elections might cut 14 voting precincts to save money and better comply with the American Disabilities Act.


Board members are expected to meet Friday or Saturday to discuss reducing the number of precincts from 72 to 58, said Lisa Hartley, board director.


"We've done this before, and it's gone well," she said, referring to the board's 2004 decision to reduce the number of precincts from 90 to 72.


Hartley said she does not have figures for how much the board could save, because the board has not made an official decision. Members anticipate saving money on printing and equipment costs and by using fewer poll workers.


Nor does Hartley have a list of which precincts are not ADA-compliant.


"At some of them, it's not going to take much to fix them," she said. "We're noticing a lot of these places don't have handicap signs (for parking)."


The board could apply for grant funding to install ramps and make other improvements make precincts comply with the law, she said.


The proposal comes after the Ohio Secretary of State's office, which oversees Ohio's county boards of elections, is encouraging counties to develop what it calls voting centers.


Board of Elections officials said they have a responsibility to all voters and candidates to provide easy and adequate access to the voting process while meeting all voting laws and striving to operate financially efficiently.


If board members approve the reduction, affected voters would be notified by mail before the November election. All voters are eligible to cast absentee ballots by mail or at the board office, 2020 Countryside Drive, Fremont.



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