State may intervene in debate over reducing voting precincts

Trumbull elections board to meet Monday on precinct reductions

Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State is urging the four members of the Trumbull County Board of Elections to reach a compromise regarding voting-precinct reductions.

By Ed Runyan


Ohio’s Republican secretary of state is urging the four members of the Trumbull County Board of Elections to reach a compromise on voting-precinct reductions.

The board split along party lines Jan. 7 on a proposal from Republican Ron Knight to reduce the 210 voting precincts to 152.

Tie votes go to the secretary of state, who has the power to cast the deciding vote.

A letter from Secretary of State Jon Husted dated Tuesday says he’s giving the board until Feb. 11 to reach a compromise, or he’ll cast the deciding vote.

Husted said in a letter that the two Democratic members of the elections board — Mark Alberini and Ralph Infante — recently wrote to him asking for more time to reach a compromise.

“I understand that the Democrat board members have had the Republican board members’ consolidation proposal since December and have yet to provide an alternative proposal or discuss any sort of compromise with the Republican board members,” Husted said.

The elections board will meet at 1 p.m. Monday to discuss the matter, including revisions to the proposal.

Knight and fellow Republican Kathi Creed voted for the reduction, while Alberini and Infante voted against it.

The board has approved reductions several times since 2009, dropping from 274 precincts to 210; Republicans say the reductions save about $1,000 per precinct per year.

Knight said at the Jan. 7 meeting reducing precincts would equalize the number of active voters at each precinct. Currently, seven precincts have more than 1,000 active voters but 25 others have fewer than 400.

Alberini said reducing precincts that much is a “recipe for disaster” on election days because of increased voters at many of the precincts.

Infante and Alberini said the loss of 58 Democrat precinct committee members would eliminate many people who are a “grass-roots” part of the political process.

Precinct consolidation would affect Democrats more than Republicans because most Democratic precinct committee spots are filled, but many of the GOP seats are empty, Alberini said.

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