Fewer precincts. lower costs

Fewer precincts. lower costs

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Hus- ted deserves credit for using more of a velvet glove than an iron fist to bring about a logical reduction in the number of election precincts in Trumbull County.

When the Democratic and Republican members of the Trumbull County Board of Elections deadlocked over a proposal by member Ron Knight that precincts be reduced from 210 to 152, state law gave Husted the tie-breaking vote.

Knight and fellow Republican Kathi Creed voted for the reduction. Democrats Mark Alberini and Ralph Infante voted against it. Absent a compelling case against the reduction, Husted, a Republican, could have been expected to break the tie in favor of the Republicans.

There is not a compelling case against it. Alberini should be commended for his candor in saying that which is generally only whispered: A reduction in precincts means that the Democrats would lose some of their worker bees, the precinct committeemen. That’s not as critical a point for Republicans, because in this part of the state Democrats have races for precinct committee posts; Republicans struggle to recruit even one candidate per precinct.

It’s about the money

But precincts are an expense to the taxpayers — not the parties. Workers must be paid at each precinct every election. The cost per precinct is about $1,000 per year, which means that a county that eliminates 50 precincts saves about $500,000 every 10 years.

We shouldn’t have to note that it is not the taxpayer’s job to subsidize either political party’s infrastructure.

Husted could have just broken the tie, but he diplomatically suggested that the board first seek a compromise. Which it did.

The precincts will be reduced from 210 to 152, but not until after the election of 2014. That will give board employees ample time to make the necessary changes — and the parties time to adjust to their new organizational realities.

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