The Ada County Elections Office is located at 400 N. Benjamin Lane, Suite 100 in Boise. (Courtesy of the Ada County Elections Office)
Ada County officials want the public to weigh in on proposed changes to precinct boundaries that are designed to reduce traffic at the polls and cut back on Election Day lines.
Elections officials will accept comment and feedback during a public forum from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Jan. 13, at Ada County Elections office, 400 N. Benjamin Lane, Suite 100, in Boise.
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The precinct boundaries are changing following Idaho’s most recent redistricting process, which was completed in November. Redistricting takes place in states across the country every 10 years and uses new U.S. Census Bureau population data to draw new legislative and congressional boundaries so political representation is as equal as possible.
Precincts determine where Idahoans vote. Those boundaries must be redrawn due to rapid growth in Ada County, county elections officials said in a press release. Statewide, the median precinct size is 1,031 people. In Ada County, the median precinct size is 2,125, Ada County Elections officials said. The goal with new precinct boundaries is to balance Ada County’s precincts at about 1,500 people each. But to do that, boundaries will need to be redrawn, which could mean a new polling location for many voters beginning this year.
“In Ada County we’re committed to ensuring voters have a smooth voting experience when they visit the polls,” Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane said in a written statement. “Our goal is to balance the precincts to best provide convenient and accessible polling locations and minimize long lines. We always welcome public feedback in any of our processes and invite input as we redraw precincts’ boundaries.”
Although county elections officials are moving forward with the forum and presenting preliminary new precinct boundaries online, there is a potential hiccup. Idaho’s redistricting commission voted to approve the new redistricting plan on Nov. 10. Since then voters, Ada County commissioners, a political candidate and two Native American tribes have filed several challenges to the redistricting plan with the Idaho Supreme Court. If the Idaho Supreme Court throws out the redistricting plans, that could delay Idaho’s scheduled May 17 primary elections or affect Ada County’s proposed precinct boundaries.
Although the primary election is not until May, the official candidate filing declaration window is scheduled to open Feb. 28. In order for political candidates to properly file declarations for the correct offices, the legislative and congressional maps from redistricting need to first be in place. Shortly after the filing declaration period, counties begin printing ballots and preparing for the primary elections.
Anyone who cannot attend the public forum on Jan. 13 may submit their comments to Ada County Elections officials by sending an e-mail to [email protected].
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