Elections board consolidates precincts and polling places
Licking County residents should confirm where they will be voting Nov. 5 because many of the polling places have changed since the last election.
Gloria Carson, deputy director of the Licking County Board of Elections, said changes in technology and consolidating the number of precincts from 125 to 95 contributed to the changes.
"We went from 45 down to 25 locations," she said.
Carson said the county implemented laptops for voter check-in and there is no longer differentiation between precincts on the voting machines. Anyone can vote at any machine, regardless of precinct.
"Remember when you'd have a line in Precinct B, but no line in A?" Carson said. "That won't happen any more."
Carson predicted the county would save $500 per precinct on poll workers, and fewer precincts mean savings on voting machine delivery costs.
She said all Licking County voters are being notified of changes by mail and she acknowledged that the polling place changes may inconvenience some voters.
"It may not work for all places," she said. "We're going to look over it after voting."
Carson said board of elections members believed this was a good time to implement the new procedures because it's an off-year election and adjustments will be made in the future, if necessary.
"It's a new thing," said Sue Penick, board of elections director.
Penick said it's too early to tell how the new locations would affect voter turnout. She said voters can still vote at the county administration building or contact the board of elections office for an absentee ballot.
"A lot of people think we don't count those ballots unless we need them," Penick said. "We always do."
Penick said the board of elections decided to keep Granville village's polling place at the First Presbyterian Church. No one in the village influenced that decision.
"It was a board of elections decision," Penick said. "We decided the church would be adequate for this election. The village being hesitant to change locations had nothing to do with (the decision)."
Penick said the county would not provide transportation to polling places, but encouraged voters who need a ride to contact their political party offices.
"For people who are transportation-challenged, it could be detrimental to voting," said Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb. "We may not know this year, it being an off-year election. That's the problem."
Off-year elections, when there are no gubernatorial or presidential elections, often have low voter turnout.
Bubb said the commissioners were not involved in changing polling locations.
"The commissioners wouldn't have done it that way, but we have no say," Bubb said.
The commissioners are always in favor of saving the county money, Bubb said, but he's not sure the savings will be worth an inconvenience to voters.
"If we find it's detrimental (to voting), you have to wonder if it's worth saving the money," he said.
Polling places for most Pataskala residents include the Church of the Nazarene on Hazelton-Etna Road and Licking Heights High School. Polling places for other area residents include Etna Methodist Church, Jersey Baptist Church and Tri-Village Christian Church.