North Dakota county to change polling site options

AP

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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) North Dakota's second-most populous county is changing polling location options for Election Day.

Burleigh County commissioners voted 3-2 Monday to eliminate roughly half of its polling sites in favor of 12 universal voting centers for Election Day, the Bismarck Tribune reported . The move will enable residents to vote near their homes, offices or schools.

The commission approved the reduction of county polling locations from 27 to 16 and the total number of precincts from 38 to 17.

County officials said that the universal voting centers will accommodate large voter turnouts by providing faster check-in, more voting booths and parking. They said the centers will save money because there are fewer locations to staff.

"It's kind of a different philosophy," said Jerry Woodcox, the county commission's chairman. "From the information we've gotten and the graphs we've seen, it tends to promote more people to vote and more convenience for the voters that are coming in."

The centers will use electronic poll books for voter check-in but keep traditional paper ballots. Networked computers will record a voter's cast ballot at all locations.

Some area legislators don't like the move.

"I think what's being proposed here is too drastic of a change," said Rep. Larry Klemin. "I don't see a problem with voting centers, I think they have merit. But, if it ain't broke, why fix it?"

Rep. Mike Nathe is worried about long lines. "You can't control where people are going to vote," Nathe said. "We can see long lines and that's our concern. Nobody wants to disenfranchise voters."

National Association of Election Officials said that a smaller number of larger and centrally located voting places will lessen the likelihood that voting on a Tuesday will conflict with other activities.

Residents still have the option to vote early or in absentia.

___

Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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