The Summit County Elections board voted today to trim the number of voting precincts in the county from 475 to 298. The move will help the cash strapped board to reduce its costs. Deputy Elections Director Kim Zurz tells AkronNewsNow the elections board will now have to make sure voters know all about the change.
" We certainly are hoping to be able to have the voters be as informed as possible prior to the election. We'll send voters out to all the voters so that they'll know exactly where they're going to vote, what their new precinct is, and giving them all that information ahead of time."
As for how much the new precinct map will save the elections board Zurz says " I don't know that we have an exact number yet to be honest because until we have figured out exactly how many polling locations, that obviously is going to make a difference as well. I don't anticipate our poll locations to drop nearly as much as the reduction has been in the number of precincts because we had already done a very significant polling location reduction a few years back. So we won't have as many locations changing as we did precincts."
There will be a corresponding reduction in the number of precinct committee workers.
Kim Zurz says the Board of Elections will also be ready to field questions from voters that are sure to come even with Board's upcoming effort to educate voters about the changes. " If they have questions they should contact the Board, and we will be able to help them by telling them what their new precinct location and their ward precinct might be."
Voter turnout low but steady throughout Summit County according to Deputy Elections Director Kim Zurz. Zurz tells AkronNewsNow "We have about 28% Republicans, and 12% of the Democrats, that's what we're showing." She says the percentages were derived from a sampling at polling places and is not a complete picture of a voting trend.
Zurz says voter turnout was slightly higher in Cuyahoga Falls where an operating levy for Woodridge Schools is on the ballot.
Elsewhere turnout is light
The polls close at 7:30 tonight and Kim Zurz anticipates a late night before final election results are tallied due to the number of write-in candidates ballots that will have to be counted.
The Summit County Board of Elections has a new director.
It's Republican Joe Masich of Green. Masich replaces Ron Koehler, who was told last month by Republican board members that they intended to appoint someone else.
Koehler attended the beginning of the meeting, then shook hands with Deputy Director Kim Zurz and left the board room immediately after Masich was sworn in.
Masich resigned as the court administrator for Summit County Common Pleas Court - Probate Division.
"It's going to be a difficult thing with the cuts, but I've always dealt well with the county and administration in my previous position and with county council and the executive and their finance department," said Masich.
Masich worked at the board of elections for a couple of years in the 1980's and now takes the top non-board position about 21 hours before the polls open for the primary election.
"I'm sure that with the deputy director and Mr. Koehler, my predecessor here, that they've prepared for tomorrow as they done in the past," said Masich.
The position pays $106,090 per year.
There are some contested races in Summit County that will not be decided on election night. Board of Elections Deputy Director Kim Zurz says the secretary of state decided it was okay to hold off on tallying write-in candidates because they have to be counted by hand.
On the suggestion of just staying up all night to get it done, Zurz asks if you really want people who are only functioning with the use of a lot of caffeine deciding the outcome of an election.
"The reality is that people get very fatigued and accuracy is extremely important," said Zurz. "You want fresh eyes."
It shouldn't be much of a problem. After all, the change won't impact our ability to determine the most-watched races and issues of the day, only those that are contested races involving write-in candidates. Those are mainly limited to a handful of people running for either the Republican or Democrat central committee.
There are plenty of people trying to grab a spot on one of those committees who are also write-in candidates, but they are uncontested in most cases. Those ballots still have to be counted by hand, but there's little anticipation since a single vote - even if it's by the candidate - is enough to win.
Summit County Board of Elections members were not pleased to learn of separate problems with voter registrations and even some ballots.
Board staffers just discovered three absentee ballots from the election in November, although Deputy Director Kim Zurz says obvious problems would have prevented at least two of them from being counted anyway.
As employees attempt to update voter registration information - a task they admit hasn't been done in this way for about three years - they're finding problems.
In some cases, people are registered to vote but the board has virtually no information to back up the registration. Employees are finding about 8 - 10 of those cases per day.
An Akron city official was used as an example of someone who was registered to vote and voted regularly, but she was red-flagged at a recent election and had to vote provisionally. It turns out that her name was changed to something that doesn't even resemble or sound like any name.
Nobody knows how it happened or how many similar cases exist.
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