published Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Sensible plan to merge voting precincts

It's obvious that voters should not have to travel unreasonable distances to cast ballots, nor face other undue hurdles. But Hamilton County election officials are sensibly considering a plan to reduce the high number of voting precincts in the county.

Not a single registered voter lives in the Northwoods No. 4 voting precinct, for instance, and so no one shows up to vote when Election Day arrives. Only one registered voter lives in the Airport No. 2 precinct, and only six live in Red Bank No. 6. Four other precincts in the county have fewer than 100 registered voters.

Merging such precincts with other precincts creates an opportunity for cost savings of thousands of dollars per election, Elections Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan told the Times Free Press recently. That's because each precinct has to have two paid workers per election -- regardless of whether anybody shows up to vote.

Mullis-Morgan would like to eliminate at least 10 precincts while Hamilton County and the state of Tennessee are redrawing district boundaries. That would still leave more than 100 precincts, so voters would not be significantly inconvenienced.

That seems like a reasonable, cost-effective idea. At a minimum, it deserves careful consideration.

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