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Summit County -- After the county's Board of Elections sharply reduced the number of precincts countywide before last November's general election, the Board plans to reverse itself and increase the number of precincts this year.
The Board voted to reduce the number of precincts for the November election last March as a cost-saving measure. Board Executive Director Joseph Masich said that his "ballpark" estimate is that the move saved between $100,000 and $120,000 in November in poll worker training and compensation, as well as equipment costs.
Locally, Macedonia dropped from 10 to six precincts, Northfield Center from five to three and Sagamore Hills from 11 to seven. Northfield Village remained the same at four.
Countywide, the Board Jan. 14 approved an increase from the current number of 298 precincts. Masich said his "best guess" is that the new number will be between 368 and 400 precincts, lower than the 475 precincts prior to last year's reduction.
Masich said he couldn't predict how many precincts Nordonia Hills communities would end up with.
"I'm planning on having [the changes] in place for the September primary," he said. "Whether it will done in time for the May primary, I don't know."
According to November election results, there were 368,055 registered voters in the 298 precincts across the county, for an average of 1,235 voters in each precinct. Prior to the reduction, according to Masich, there were an average of about 900 voters in each precinct.
He added numbers actually varied widely, particularly with extensive voter registration drives in some areas during the presidential election. For example, Peninsula, which is one precinct, had only about 455 registered voters, while certain precincts around the University of Akron had as many as 1,700 voters. He noted that state law allows a maximum of just 1,400 voters per precinct.
"That's a reason we're addressing this," he said.
According to Board of Elections November election records, Precinct C in Macedonia topped the legal limit with 1,443 registered voters, the only precinct in the four Nordonia Hills communities to do so. The city's six precincts averaged 1,369 registered voters, with the smallest number in Precinct F with 1,339 registered voters.
Northfield Center's three precincts averaged 1,394 registered voters, ranging from 1,391 in Precinct B to 1,398 in Precinct C.
Northfield Village's four precincts, averaged 583 registered voters, ranging from 560 in Ward C to 603 in Ward B.
Sagamore Hills' seven precincts average 1,156 registered voters, with 109 in Precinct F, which comprises the Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare facility on Sagamore Road. The other six township precincts average about 1,330 voters.
Masich said various factors will impact the process. For example, the Board will have to look at new ward maps that Akron, Barberton and Cuyahoga Falls all recently drew up to see how precincts will fit within them.
Also, communities such as Northfield Village, which has wards that correspond to its precinct boundaries, will not see a change, Masich said.