Ferndale residents who vote at or the Autumn House will have new polling locations starting with the August primary after the Ferndale City Council approved a measure precented by Ferndale City Clerk Cherilynn Tallman.
Tallman introduced the proposal to shrink Ferndale's voting precincts from nine to seven that would remove Roosevelt and the Autumn House as locations and redistributing those voters throughout the new district lines.
Tallman said that as a result of , and in conjunction with the state and county redistricting processes (also due to the census figures), a reduction was necessary. (Read about redistricting .)
Under Michigan election law, each precinct is set with a maximum number of 2,999 registered voters. In Ferndale, according to the City Clerk's Office, the registered voters in the nine precincts range from 1,200 to 2,200 voters. The average per precinct is 1,800.
The redrawing of the precincts and the reduction in polling locations will grow the average number of registered voters per precinct to 2,300, the proposal says. The plan will go into effect for the Aug. 7 primary.
The polling locations that remain are:
Tallman said shrinking the number of precincts will save the city money and provide for more efficient elections.
Benefits (as presented by Tallman):
- Labor costs would be reduced due to fewer election inspectors and because less time will be required for setup and tear down. Many of these tasks are currently done on an overtime basis.
- The state warranty on the city's M-100 tabulators (ballot counters) has expired. The most recent contract extension required the city to pay half of the annual warranty-per-tabulator fee at $137. The reduction in polling locations reduces the number of tabulators by two and may result in cost savings of up to $274 per year.
- The state contract for maintenance of the AutoMARK terminals, which help voters with disabilities to cast votes independently, has ended. Reducing the number of those machines will also result in a yearly cost savings.
- Supply costs such as precinct kits, test ballots, directional signs, binders and printed instructional materials would be reduced.
- The optimum staffing for the voting process is five election inspectors per precinct. Presidential elections generally have a higher turnout. So, instead of hiring more election workers for the November 2012 election, the clerk's office intends to reassign election staff from the two reduced polling locations and increase staffing to no less than six election inspectors per precinct to maximize efficient voter processing. This will keep 2012 election staffing budget static instead of increasing.
- Reducing the number of precincts also reduces the amount of time it takes to obtain election results.
Educating the public
As part of state law, Ferndale is required to mail notices to residents whenever there is a change in redistricting. By redistricting now, at the same time with the state, the proposal says that Ferndale can reduce future election costs. The cost for printing and mailing these mandatory notices is $5,100. With the savings and benefits as listed above, Tallman said she expects the city hit the break-even point in 12 to 18 months.
Tallman added that in addition to the notices going out, the clerk's office will be doing quite a bit of education to make sure that all registered voters know where to go come election time. "We'll be doing quite a bit of public education on the change in locations," she said.
Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter asked why Roosevelt -- which is historically one of Ferndale's busiest polling location (whereas the Autumn House is historically slow and just a few blocks north of another polling spot) -- was the location that was pulled from polling locations. Tallman said that Roosevelt wasn't always the best place for elections — whether it was parking or space inside the building. "I think the voters are better served in the Kulick Center. There is more space and more parking," she said.