Apr 18, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff WriterFremont County Clerk Julie Freese is proposing to eliminate a voting precinct in the Pavillion area while expanding one in the Lander area and splitting up another in Riverton.
The changes Freese presented to county commissioners during their meeting on April 17 mainly involve eliminating split precincts where ballots can widely vary due to political boundaries and cause voter confusion.
In the case of the precinct known as 8 Mile 15-1, Freese is proposing to eliminate it and combine it with Pavillion 14-1 due to difficulty in finding election judges.
As a result of the proposed change, voters who previously cast their ballots at the Midvale Fire Hall will have a new polling place at the Wind River Recreation Center in Pavillion.
The proposed precinct changes will be the focus of a public hearing at 2:30 p.m. on May 1 during the commission meeting in the Fremont County Courthouse in Lander.
Commission district border
As part of the discussion on the matter, commissioners voters unanimously to approve a change for the county board's race for a small area west of Eight Mile Road and south of Highway 26.
Freese presented an adjustment for Commission District 2 that would remove part of the adjacent District 1 "because it would keep us from having a split up there."
The adjustment needed board approval after the board earlier this month approved changes to the boundaries for the five commission districts resulting from population shifts in the 2010 Census.
"It's a move of some 200 voters," Freese said about the adjustment. With the shift from District 1 that encompasses much of the Wind River Indian Reservation, "It boosts your Native American majority ... to 77 percent from 75 percent" in that district.
Commissioner Travis Becker made the motion to the approve the proposed district adjustment, saying, "I don't see any problem with this. It keeps the numbers" of people at needed levels.
15-1, 14-1 would combine
For the proposed precinct changes, Freese called the move to eliminate 15-1 "probably the most controversial."
Noting the lack of election judges for the precinct, Freese said, "We again have nobody that wants to do that in 15-1."
"We decided we would attempt to do a proposal of moving 15-1 into 14-1," she said. "We just thought it might help all of us if we consolidated."
Commissioner Dennis Christensen, who resides in the 15-1 precinct, said he has not heard any opposition to the proposed move.
"It seems like it is very difficult for somebody to man that precinct station" at the Midvale Fire Hall, Christensen said, noting the use of workers from Dubois at the polling place.
Freese told commissioners she has been trying to notify the public through advertisements and at the recent Fremont County Democratic Party convention in Lander.
"It's always better to have your parties well aware," she said.
In the Lander area, the Milford 5-1 precinct will expand east and envelop some voters from the adjacent Beebe 6-1 district. "Again it just helps us tremendously with the splits if we do this," Freese said.
Another precinct change in the Riverton area would shrink Luthy 17-1 between Riverview Road and Highway 26 into Big Bend 18-1. Meanwhile, 18-1 would lose a small swath west of North Eighth West to 17-1.
"It cuts the amount of splits if we do this," Freese said, adding that both precincts vote in the same location.
Additionally, an area of southwest Riverton in 18-1 would be split into a new Big Bend 18-2 precinct.
"We were going to have 10 splits and we ended up with five," Freese said about the proposed change.
Freese hopes the public will review the proposed changes and provide input for the May 1 hearing. "If they have any comments they're supposed to let you know, let me know, come to the meeting on the First," she told commissioners.
Notifications will go out to affected voters.
"I think as a courtesy for those that are affected by changes, I'd like to see a postcard" sent to them, Christensen said.
Visit fremontcountywy.org/county-clerk/election-and-voting/ to see maps of the proposed changes.
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