Elections official to save $30k by closing 13 polling stations

By Debbie Carson, Online EditorVERO BEACH – Five voting precincts will be consolidated into two polling locations in the upcoming Aug. 4 special election, according to Supervisor of Elections Kay Clem. She announced Thursday that she would be consolidating 13 polling locations to save the department money.Clem said Friday that she expects to save $30,000 on payroll “right off the bat.” Other savings include not having to buy more equipment, sign additional leases or purchase other supplies. “We’ll see,” Clem said of the final dollar amount for savings.Five voting precincts will be consolidated into two polling locations, all of which are located on the barrier island, for the Aug. 4 special election. Clem said that about 2,482 voters would be impacted. However, according to numbers provided on the Supervisor of Elections Web site, www.voterindianriver.com, more than 4,800 voters are registed at the impacted beachside precincts.Those precincts are 202 and 205, and 508, 509 and 510. The 202 and 205 precincts will join the 209 precinct at the Indian River Shores Community Center, 6001 N. Hwy. A1A. The 508, 509 and 510 precincts will be moved to Christ by the Sea United Methodist Church, located at 3755 N. Hwy A1A. Precincts 511 and 512 – housed at St. Edward’s lower and upper schools, respectively, were not moved.The department expects to save money by reducing the number of poll workers needed, the amount of equipment needed, along with a reduction in signage, supplies, phone lines, cell phones and leasing costs, Clem said in the release. Clem said Friday that the department typically hires 500 poll workers countywide but will need one-third less – or 165 fewer workers.”With the advent of early voting and the increase in voters using the vote-by-mail system, we average having one-half of our voters voting before Election Day,” Clem said in the release. “The time for paying workers to serve half the number of voters they handled in prior years is just too expensive in this economy.”Indian River County currently has 54 precincts with 48 polling locations. Clem plans to close 13 of those locations and will shift the precincts served to other locations. Clem said the department plans to keep the 35 precincts until the county is redistricted in 2012.Clem said that the affected polling locations were chosen so that the replacement locations are no more than 1.4 miles away. She did not release the new locations and impacted precincts for the November municipal elections, saying that she did not want to confuse the voters. Instead, those voters will receive a notification card within 30 days of the November election.In all, more than 24,200 registered voters countwide will be affected.”If you feel that the distance is too far then you can call our office to order a vote-by-mail ballot or you can go to our office to early vote,” Clem said in the release.  Early voting for the Aug. 4 District 28 senate seat will be held at the Supervisor of Elections Office, 4375 43rd Ave. Unit 101, from July 27 through Aug. 1 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. every day including Saturday.  Voters can also request a vote-by-mail ballot online at www.VoteIndianRiver.com. The department also expects to save money with the implementation of its Electronic Voter Identification equipment. “We have been using the equipment for our early voting sites and have become proficient in providing quick and accurate identification of voters,” Clem said.  The office will be able to save money by not having to print precinct registers for each precinct and have poll workers to oversee each book.  Instead, poll workers will slide voters’ driver’s licenses or state identification cards through the machine to find the voters’ voting records.  They can also manually enter the voters’ names and addresses to find their records.  The new system will reduce the number of needed pollworkers by 30 percent and will dramatically reduce printing and supply costs, according to Clem. She added that the changes will make the end of Election Day reconciliation at the polling locations far easier.  The system will quickly total the number of voting passes issued so that the poll worker can compare the number with the total number of votes on the voting equipment in that precinct. By the numbers:

PrecinctLocationDemocratsRepublicansOtherTotal

202

Environmental Learning Center

30

316

70

416

205

New Hope Church

390

1194

372

1956

209*

Indian River Shores Community Center

406

2685

467

3558

508

Bethel Creek House

150

529

130

809

509

Beachland Elementary

214

494

229

937

510

Riverhouse

158

412

166

736

TOTAL

1348

5630

1434

8412

*Precinct hasn’t moved; has had two precincts move to same location.

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