By Nick Nunn, Staff Writer
After considering a precinct consolidation plan that would reduce the number of voting precincts to five from the current 11, the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration (BOER) voted 3-1 in favor of adopting a seven-precinct plan.
The adopted plan aligns precinct boundaries with current Morgan County district lines. Single precincts are slated for Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4; two precincts for District 5; and a single precinct to cover areas of Districts 2, 3, and 4 in or near Madison city limits.
Neither the line dividing District 5, nor the boundary lines for the new precinct, which will cover sections of Districts 2, 3 and 4, have been decided by the BOER.
The polling places at Clack’s Chapel and Springfield will remain open as part of the adopted plan.
During last Thursday’s meeting of the BOER, Board Member Helen Butler brought up the public concern expressed regarding precinct consolidation and brought up the idea of aligning precinct lines with district lines, but having two precincts per district for a total of 10 precincts.
Butler noted that the plan still simplifies the voting process, as would the proposed five-precinct plan, but also deals with concerns of placing an undue burden on voters to get to the polling places.
Acknowledging that a 10-precinct plan would not dramatically reduce election costs for the county – which was an impetus for the precinct consolidation plan from the beginning – Butler stated that “there are different ways to tackle expenses.”
Avery Jackson, board member, supported a 10-precinct plan as well, stating that such a plan would “really cover what we’re trying to do.”
Drawing back from the 10-precinct plan in order to increase expense reduction, Butler then suggested the seven-precinct plan outlined above, which would split District 5, and create an additional District near Madison that would cover parts of Districts 2, 3 and 4.
Board Member John Milliken voiced his approval of the seven-precinct plan, saying “seven sounds like a substantial improvement to me.”
Milliken also noted that “To have one [precinct] that crosses three districts is very workable.”
David Moore, board member, was hesitant about voting on a plan that the board had not planned for ahead of time.
“I don’t think we’ve seen it,” said Moore. “I would like to see it before we vote on it.”
Despite Moore’s objection, the BOER held a vote on the plan, which passed with Moore as the sole dissenting vote.
Milliken then made a motion to codify some of what the BOER had spoken about regarding the plan, including aligning precinct lines with district lines and keeping the Clack’s Chapel and Springfield polling places open.
Elections Supervisor Bobby Howington stated that the BOER will have to vote on precinct lines for the new precincts before their boundaries are settled.
The board also discussed the qualifying procedures for municipal elections, which will take place this year from Aug. 26-30, and approved a motion that would require any violations of a candidate’s financial report to come before the board so that the board will be responsible for levying fines against the candidate.
In essence, this motion will push any candidate’s financial infractions to the forefront of the awareness of the board and the public.
The BOER also noted that there may be a need for a special election qualification on Sept. 16-18 to fill an unexpired term on the Madison City Council.
Namely, if Council Member Fred Perriman completes his qualification for the seat of Mayor, his seat on the council would be vacated, and a special election would need to be held for that position.
The New Precincts
Plan aligns precinct boundaries with county district lines.
District 1: Single precinct
District 2: Single precinct
District 3: Single precinct
District 4: Single precinct
District 5: Two precincts
One precinct to cover areas of Districts 2, 3 and 4 in or near Madison city limits