Splitting election precincts in order to rejoin some communities split in the proposed council redistricting plan won't be politically easy.
And based on a memo from the head of the Baltimore County Board of Elections, such a solution won't be cheap.
In a Sept. 26 memo obtained by Patch, Katie Brown, the county director of elections, tells the council that each new precinct can cost "between $4,990 and $15,390 depending on the amount of equipment required."
(See the memo attached to this post.)
As part of that discussion, the council will have to determine what, if anything, it will do about proposals to move two specific precincts— the Woodlawn High School precinct and the Loch Hill community near Towson.
The new districts, as proposed, would move Woodlawn High School into a district represented by Councilman Tom Quirk, a Catonsville Democrat. Loch Hill would be shifted into a district represented by Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, an Oliver Beach Democrat, while a large part of the rest of Towson would remain in the 5th Council District with Republican David Marks.
One possible solution could be to split election precincts—something the commission and many councilmembers have been reluctant to do.
Brown's memo outlines some additional logistical problems for which costs are some times difficult to determine.
"Adding additional precincts means that there are more locations to manage and trouble-shoot," Brown writes. "On Election Day our headquarters becomes a command center, taking calls from election judges to answer questions, send out deliveries (immediately) of additional supplies and to replace inoperable machines, etc. The more precincts, the more staff resources needed to answer phones and deliver materials."
"Finally each precinct’s unique set of touch screen voting machines will yield an additional set of data cards which need to be brought to a satellite office to count the votes after the precinct is closed down on Election Night. This means it will take more time to gather and process the additional volume of data cards, which could potentially add some time to count votes and provide results," Brown writes.