April 4, 2012

Voting centers cut to three

By Stu Merry, BHG News Service

Come the June Primary Election, if voters want to go to the poll to cast their ballot, they will only have three choices – Washburn, Garrison and Turtle Lake. It's either make the trip or cast your vote by mail. And that's what county officials hope voters will consider, rather than not cast their vote at all for the candidate of their choice. In late December, commissioners decided to hold Vote-by-Mail elections in 2012 while decreasing the number of precincts from 11 to three. The board also established seven voting centers to accommodate the new voting method as well as redrawn legislative districts. A voting center allows the voter to cast their ballot at any voting center regardless of their precinct assignment since each vote center will have all 16 ballot styles used for the Primary Election. The centers were located in Washburn, Wilton, Max, Garrison, Underwood, Mercer and Turtle Lake. A polling place will remain in White Shield where precinct boundaries did not change from 2010. Because of logistical problems in the time it takes to setup a voting center polling site, due to the implementation of the new electronic poll books that are required, there will only be three polling centers at the June Primary Election. Auditor Les Korgel and Chief Deputy Auditor Lori Foss told commissioners after visiting with other counties who have done this, they realized that each voting center would require at least 1½ hours to set up, plus drive time. Korgel told commissioners set up of a poll book cannot be started until the close of business on the day before the election as programs need to have the most current information showing voters who have cast their ballot by mail or at the courthouse up to closing time on the day prior to Election Day. With seven voting centers, Korgel and Foss said they realized there just wouldn't be enough time and manpower to prepare all seven locations.



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