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Published December 14, 2011, 09:07 PM

GF Residents to Vote on Polling Site, Precinct Changes

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Voters in Grand Forks can voice their opinions on new precincts before the city council votes. The number of polling sites and the number of precincts will be reduced by the next election.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Voters in Grand Forks can voice their opinions on new precincts before the city council votes.

The number of polling sites and the number of precincts will be reduced by the next election.

New wards and precincts need to be done every ten years. The city is looking at creating 19 precincts with 12 polling places.

Grand Forks County has the most precincts in the state, so there has been a push, for many different reasons, to get that number down.

"Currently we have to find 215 workers and it's a lot to find, and it's hard to find 215 workers that are able to work all day long at the polling site," Grand Forks County finance and tax director Debbie Nelson said.

Nelson recommended cutting the number of polling places in the city of Grand Forks. Staffing, and paying that staff, is a burden.

"For each precinct you need five workers, at least five workers, and they are required to be paid 25 percent more than minimum wage," Nelson said.

So by cutting the precincts and polling places, the county will be cutting costs.

Grand Forks County currently has the most precincts in the state with 43. 26 of those precincts are in the city of Grand Forks. Both the city and the county are reducing those numbers.

"Some of the small cities will no longer have a polling site, they will have to drive to another small city to vote," Nelson said.

But cutting those numbers isn't easy.

"(We) want to keep them as close to where they're at, but at the same time we do have to look at parking and making sure the place inside the building is big enough to accommodate the number of voters that we expect to be there," Grand Forks city senior planner Ryan Brooks said.

Having one location for the entire city would be easiest and would cut costs even more. But the city council doesn't want to see any drastic changes.

"The county would definitely like to see the city go to one polling location at the Alerus. That can certainly handle it. The question is whether logistically that can work. I think that's what I'm hearing our city council is a little fearful of," Brooks said.

To look at the proposed precincts and see the polling places, go to GrandForksGov.com

If you want to comment on the proposal, you can contact the city planning department. The city council plans on voting Monday.

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