Clerk Orr to save $1 million with precinct reductions

Suburban Cook County will have 14 percent fewer precincts in 2012 - for an estimated $1 million savings - due to Clerk David Orr's continued effort to streamline elections. Orr's measure, approved unanimously Tuesday by the Cook County Board of Commissioners, will eliminate 264 precincts, reducing the number of precincts from 1,937 to 1,673. This is an enormous dividend from our investment in policies that make voting easier, Orr said. Early Voting and absentee by mail have taken the pressure off in-precinct voting. Orr brought both of those measures to the state legislature in recent years. The impact was clear in 2008, when nearly 25 percent of all voters cast ballots prior to Election Day. Pre-Election Day voting is expected to increase in 2012, when all voters will be eligible to request an absentee ballot for the first time in a presidential election. Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, commended Orr for tapping into the pre-Election Day voting trend to identify cost savings. These changes assure easier voter access to voting while reducing significant costs for taxpayers, Suffredin said. Orr noted his 2012 election budget request for suburban Cook County is $24.6 million, about $3 million or 11 percent less than requested for the last presidential election in 2008 - despite rising operation and staff costs. Suburban Cook County will have 33 percent fewer precincts in 2012 than a decade ago, due to periodic precinct reductions. A total of 829 precincts have been eliminated since 2002. The last precinct reduction occurred in 2009, when 353 precincts were eliminated. The Clerk's office also trimmed the number of precincts by 212 between 2002 and 2008, from 2,502 to 2,290. In conjunction with redistricting, the Clerk's Election Department redrew precinct boundaries this year. An analysis of those new precincts revealed many that were underutilized by voters or that could be easily combined with other precincts. Reducing the number of precincts and combining precincts will decrease costs associated with election judges, equipment programming, equipment delivery and polling place rental fees. The precinct reduction is anticipated to save $500,000 per election in even-numbered years. By merging precincts with others in the same polling location or combining precincts where there are too few voters, we will save $1 million next year with little to no impact on voters, Orr said. In more than half of the 264 affected precincts, the precinct will be combined with another precinct at the same polling location. All registered voters will receive a new voter identification card prior to the March 20, 2012 Presidential Primary Election highlighting their Election Day precinct and polling place, their closest Early Voting location and their 2012 new voting districts. Beginning in December, new precinct information will be a click away via the Your Voter Information tool on Voters can enter their home address to find information about their polling location. Maps of the precinct changes are also available online by township (see below). Yellow precincts identify those with boundary adjustments; blue represents precinct combinations; and green represents combinations of two or more precincts. Barrington Berwyn Bloom Bremen Calumet Cicero Elk Grove Evanston Hanover Lemont (no changes) Leyden Lyons Maine New Trier Niles Northfield Norwood Park Oak Park Orland Palatine Palos Proviso Rich River Forest Riverside (no changes) Schaumburg Stickney Thornton Wheeling Worth


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