By Ed Runyan
Members of the Trumbull County Board of Elections reviewed a consolidation plan that again would reduce the number of voting precincts in the county — this time from 208 to slightly more than 140.
The elections board had asked board staff a year ago to construct a consolidation plan and submit it to them early this year that would reduce about 60 precincts as a way to save money.
Kelly Pallante, board director, and Jodi Fiorenzo-Dibble, deputy director, presented such a plan Tuesday, which reduces the total by 66 precincts to 142.
This would be done by putting Warren voters into 19 fewer precincts, Howland voters into eight fewer precincts, Niles voters into five fewer precincts and Champion and Liberty voters into four fewer precincts.
It would reduce three precincts in Girard, Cortland, Brookfield and Weathersfield; reduce two precincts in Vienna and Warren townships; and have single precincts in 10 other locations — the townships of Bazetta, Braceville, Bristol, Hubbard, Mecca, Newton and Vernon; and the villages of Lordstown, McDonald and West Farmington.
But board member Ron Knight said that proposal cuts too deeply. He suggests the board reduce 52 precincts for a total of 156.
He also would like to see changes made to better balance the number of voters within each precinct within the townships and cities.
For instance, if Hartford Township stayed the same, as proposed by the staff, there would be 840 active voters in one precinct and 508 in the other. That is more than a 10 percent difference between the precincts, Knight said.
The board agreed to review the staff and Knight proposals in more depth and discuss them again at the April meeting.
The elections board agreed last year the precinct consolidation plan should go into effect at the start of 2015.
The elections board had 274 voting precincts before reducing 24 in 2009, an additional 12 in 2010 and 28 more in 2011.
Knight said last year that Trumbull County has an average of 719 voters per precinct, which is “well below the state average of 868.”
Dropping to 152 precincts would give Trumbull County the 10th-highest average number of voters per precinct in the state, Knight said.
In other business, the board adopted a recommendation from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted that it and all Ohio counties adopt standardized hours and days for in-person absentee voting for the May 6 primary election.
The hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 1 to April 4, April 8 to April 11, and April 14 to May 2; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. April 7; and 8 a.m. to noon May 3.
There will be no early voting May 5, the Monday before Election Day.