The head of the Licking County Board of Elections knows she’s in for a bumpy November after nearly half of the county’s voting locations were eliminated. “People are going to be upset, and I understand that,” said Director Sue Penick. “But we’re playing with their money and trying to ultimately be fiscally responsible with it. Hopefully, we’ve done that.” Most central Ohio counties have streamlined their precincts in recent years, and Licking County became the latest by announcing on Tuesday that it is eliminating 30 precincts and more than 20 polling locations. The move is expected to save about $20,000. Licking County will go from 125 precincts to 95, and consolidate 47 voting locations into 24 or 26 for the November election. The impetus, besides cost-cutting, was efficiency, Penick said. Seven precincts that served villages with fewer than 200 voters were consolidated into locations that now will serve a village/township split.
Penick said the streamlining will affect between 65,000 and 70,000 voters, or more than 60 percent of those registered. Those affected will be notified of the changes by mail in the coming weeks.
Changes in election law in the past five to 10 years have allowed counties to cut costs without, in theory, cutting efficiency.
More than 30 percent of Ohio voters submitted absentee ballots, for example, in November’s general election.
“While we all work for the secretary of state, we have a huge commitment to the county that funds us,” said Susan Bloom, director of the Fairfield County Board of Elections.