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Fewer Polling Places to Save the City Money

Fewer Polling Places to Save the City Money

(Crystal A. Proxmire, 12/12/2011)

Ferndale City Clerk Cherilynn Tallman presented a plan to City Council on Dec. 12, 2011 which will save the city money by reducing the number of precincts from 9 to 7.  This falls within the rules established by Michigan Election Law.  Tallman explained the process, the benefits and the results in a request for Council action, which reads:

“As a consequence of the decennial reapportionment process, the State of Michigan is redistricting congressional, senate and house districts, and Oakland County is redistricting commission districts. The Clerk’s Office has been preparing to restructure our voting precincts based on adjusted 2010 census figures in conjunction with the mandatory state and county redistricting process.

‘Michigan Election Law sets the maximum number of registered voters per precinct at 2,999. Currently, Ferndale has nine precincts, ranging from 1,200 to 2,200 registered voters, with an average of 1,800 per precinct. By altering the existing Precinct Boundaries we can reduce the number of polling locations from 9 to 7. While this plan will expand the average number of registered voters per precinct to 2,300, the greatest number of registered voters in one precinct will be 2,808.

‘In 2012 we will be administering three Elections; the Presidential Primary, and possible School Bond, Election on February 28; the Primary Election on August 7 and the General Election on November 6.

‘The benefit to the City and its voters is more economical and efficient elections:

• Labor costs would be reduced by the need for fewer election inspectors and because less time will be required for set up and tear down, and for testing of M-100 tabulators and AutoMARK terminals. Many of these tasks are currently done on an overtime basis.

• The State warranty on our M-100 tabulators has expired. The most recent contract extension required the city to pay 50% of the annual warranty per-tabulator fee of $137. The status of further contract extensions is unsure and the reduction in the number of tabulators we need by 2 may result in cost savings of up to $274 per year.

• The State contract for maintenance of the AutoMARK terminals has ended, so reducing the number of those machines needed will also result in a yearly cost savings to the City.

• Supply costs such as precinct kits, test ballots, directional signs, binders and printed instructional materials would be reduced.

• The optimum staffing level for insuring the integrity of the voting process is five election inspectors per precinct. Voter turnout generally is much higher during a Presidential Election cycle. We intend to increase our staffing to no less than six election inspectors per precinct to maximize efficient voter processing. By reducing the number of precincts, displaced election workers can be reassigned; thereby allowing our election staffing costs to remain static for 2012 rather than increasing.

• Reducing the number of precincts also reduces the amount of time it takes to obtain election results.

‘MCL 168.499 requires the Clerk’s Office to notify every registered voter affected by a change in United States representative, state senatorial, state representative, or county commissioner district or precinct. As our United States representative and state senatorial districts have been redistricted the city is required to notify every voter of the change. By consolidating precincts at a time when all voters must already be sent notice of districts changes we can reduce future election administration costs. The cost for the printing and mailing of the mandatory notices is approximately $5,100.

‘We will accomplish this by sending out new voter registration cards with each card clearly marked that the voter’s polling location, United States representative and state senatorial districts have changed. As we go into the 2012 Presidential election cycle, this mailing will serve double duty by acting as a timely reminder to our voters to participate in the process.

‘I estimate the cost savings of precinct consolidation would bring us to the break-even point within 12-18 months.

‘The new boundaries would go into effect for the August 2012 Primary Election.

‘The Election Commission will be meeting prior to the December 12, 2011 Council meeting to confirm the plan’s feasibility and compliance with MCL 168.661 and 168.662.”

Council approved the new precincts unanimously.

The map below shows how the precincts were divided before, and will be up until the Aug. 2012 primary election.




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