Finance committee focuses on precints, budget proposals

Finance committee focuses on precints, budget proposals

By JORDAN GRUCZA

Enquirer Democrat Reporter

Discussion at the July 3 county finance meeting was dominated by the topic of County Clerk Pete Duncan’s proposal to lower the number of voting precincts and polling places to cover the costs of new voting machines, a problem for which Macoupin County has long needed a remedy. The voting machines currently being used were made in 1989 and are well past their estimated life expectancy.

“There is no draft resolution,” said Duncan. “We had talked at my budget hearing about a plan to reduce down to 40 precincts and 11 less machines if we were to get new voting machines. I spoke with County Board Chairman Mark Dragovich about a statute that states the suggested range is a minimum of 500 voters per precinct and a maximum of 800.”

Duncan supplied the committee with a list of every township with more than one precinct and a list of the current number of registered voters in each precinct.

“In just a few weeks we’ll be cancelling inactive voters who have not voted in the last two federal elections,” Duncan said.  “For our purposes I’ve subtracted those out as they won’t be registered much longer.”

Duncan also supplied the total number of precincts divided by the 800 maximum statute and an estimated number of new registered voters in each township.

“No lines drawn, no configurations,” said Duncan. “It’s just an idea of how many voters will roughly be in each precinct if we go this route. We have quite a few precincts that don’t meet the 500 or 800 standard.

“You as a board can pass a resolution saying we will reduce the number of judges in the primary election from five per precinct to three. If you were to do that, that’s going to save $15,040. I’m not a huge fan of that, but if that’s what we’ve got to do to get this done, we can certainly make that work.

“Also in talking to Chairman Dragovich, there is also a bill currently being considered by the legislature to bump up that maximum number to 1,200 per precinct. It hasn’t been approved, it hasn’t been signed. It didn’t get done last session, so maybe in November. If you run those numbers, that puts us at 38 total precincts, and you’re actually only going to save one machine. Instead of going down to 11 we’re going down to 12.

“My feeling is, based on the current 500 to 800 statute, I think what would be best at this point is that agree in principal to try and get every precinct into this voter range, reduce the total number down to 47, reduce the number of judges from five to three, and then go ahead and get the machines.”

Finance Committee Chair Dave Thomas expressed some concern, stating that he was under the impression that this plan could not be carried out unless it was done at the regular county board meeting in June. This is written into a statute that states in the event of purchasing voting machines, county boards have the option of expanding, contracting and consolidating precincts.

Read the full story in the 7-11-19 edition of the Macoupin County Enquirer~Democrat.

Dave Thomas expresses concern over proceeding with merging precincts without the State’s Attorney’s opinion.