Clinton County officials are more confident about reprecincting plans following two public meetings last week on the issue.
Every 10 years following the census, the opportunity to reprecinct occurs. County Auditor Eric Van Lancker and Supervisor Jill Davisson have been working on plans to change the county’s precincts to make the process more efficient and more cost effective.
Public meetings were held last Tuesday in Delmar and on Thursday in Clinton. Davisson said she believed the meetings went rather well. Van Lancker said the meetings were not full, but he felt both were very successful. Davisson appreciated the precinct workers and members of the public who attended the meetings and offered their suggestions. She was thankful to one individual in Delmar who suggested the county figure the cost per ballot for each of the precincts.
Cost per ballot numbers are found by dividing the cost of each precinct by the number of voters who voted at that location. Van Lancker said each precinct is required to have certain election machines and at least three people at the polling location, including a precinct chairperson. Van Lancker said having four or five people is better. Mileage, cost for machine technicians and other expenses also figure into the costs.
The average cost per ballot for the county is $5.73. Some precincts are much higher. Davisson said she was somewhat surprised to see that the costs per ballot are so high.
Camanche’s precinct cost per ballot is $13.90. Van Lancker said this is because the 2010 election expenses for Camanche were $653.11. However, only 40 people voted in that location. Van Lancker said this happens when population decreases, but all of the locations stay open. He said it actually has nothing to do with voter turnout, but with how they can more effectively run the polling locations.
The county is considering reducing the number of precincts from 30 to 26. The precincts that would be combined would be Hampshire and Elk River/Andover; Olive/Calamus and Grant; Washington and Welton/Welton; Bloomfield/Delmar and Brookfield; Camanche and Eden Township. Low Moor would be made into its own precinct.
Van Lancker figured the cost per ballot for each of the newly combined precincts, except for the Camanche and Eden Township precinct. He said that precinct was left out because the Low Moor statistics would need to be removed. In each precinct being combined, the cost per ballot for the new precinct would be less than those for each of the two precincts being combined. The costs after the proposed precinct changes would be: Bloomfield/Delmar and Brookfield at $3.22 per ballot; Olive/Calamus and Grant at $3.37; Washington and Welton/Welton at $4.29; Hampshire and Elk River/Andover at $2.64.
Van Lancker has said previously that during a 10-year period, the county could save as much as $50,000 by combining the proposed precincts. Both Van Lancker and Davisson said seeing the cost per ballot for each precinct has strengthened their opinions that reprecincting could benefit the county.
The county’s plan is due to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office by Oct. 14. A public hearing will be held in mid- September before the Clinton County Board of Supervisors can vote on a resolution to change the precincts. Davisson encourages people to attend the hearing as well.