All along, the Summit County Board of Elections had planned to make changes to new precinct boundaries drawn for last year’s general election. Following sound practice, the board aimed at adjusting precincts to fit new ward boundaries in Akron, Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton. The cities have drawn or are in the process of redrawing wards to equalize the number of voters, as required after each census.
The board, wisely, is going beyond such fine tuning. This week, it approved a contract for a comprehensive redrawing in time for the September elections. The job calls for increasing the number of precincts from 298 to between 368 and 400, a response to long lines and confused voters and poll workers on Nov. 6.
Taking the number of precincts from 475, the number in effect in last year’s primary, down to 298 proved to be a disaster, all for a savings estimated between $120,000 and $140,000.
As has been made clear in comparisons with other counties of similar size, the Summit County Board of Elections has a budget problem measured in millions, not hundreds of thousands. As the board expands the county’s precincts, and adjusts polling locations, why not take another smart step by launching another look at areas where savings can be realized without affecting voters?
In the past, the board has resisted efforts by Russ Pry, the county executive, and the County Council to bring its spending into line. A more cooperative and productive attitude, with a focus on savings through improved technology and more flexible and efficient work practices, would be a welcome readjustment as the board moves forward with readjusting precinct lines.