Greenville’s congressional districts become clearer

By Ryan Jeltema • Last Updated 3:17 pm on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

GREENVILLE — Elections in Greenville will be more confusing next year under a redistricting plan that splits a handful of voters in each of the city’s four voting precincts.
Updated information given to Montcalm County Clerk Kristen Millard shows as few as three voters in some precincts will require a separate ballot beginning with the August 2012 primary election.
That leads to more work for her and Greenville Clerk-Treasurer Brad Hool to prepare for the elections and for poll workers who need to make sure all voters receive the correct ballot.
“It’s going to be incredibly difficult,” Millard said.
Redistricting occurs once every decade to update districts for elected officials to represent based on U.S. Census data. Federal election law requires U.S. House districts to have the same number of residents.
Drawing districts to meet that exacting tolerance required the Michigan Legislature, which draws districts for state and federal elected officials, to carve small parts of the city into the Third Congressional District represented by Justin Amash, R-Grand Rapids. Eureka Township also joins that district.
Most of the city and the rest of Montcalm County remain in the Fourth Congressional District represented by Dave Camp, R-Midland.
Greenville voters joining the Third Congressional District include:
• 4 people in Greenville’s precinct 1 and anyone in precinct 4 east of Industrial Park Drive.
• 24 people in the city’s precinct 2 on the north end near Fairview Drive, Kilduff Drive and a block between VanDeinse Avenue, North Street, Second Street and Third Street.
• 3 people on the city’s west side near Ridgewood Drive.
Voters will receive information on which district they live in when new voter identification cards are mailed in May.
Millard said the districts are based on randomly drawn census tracts that don’t reflect where natural boundaries like streets and governmental lines are now. She is still working to figure out a final list of addresses that will be moved to the Third Congressional District.
“It’s incredibly random,” Millard said. “I’m really disappointed that they would do such a thing. The whole process of having a difference of one in a Congressional district when districts are so large just seems antiquated.”
Already, Millard is expecting an administrative headache with next year’s elections. Greenville will have eight separate ballots.
Hool also is concerned about protecting voter secrecy in the precincts with three or four people.
“If we have a precinct with three people in it, it won’t be hard to figure out how they vote,” he said. “We’ll survive but if there’s ever a recount and they want to figure out who voted how, that person’s privacy is at risk. We’ve thrown voter secrecy out the window with this redistricting.”
The situation could be complicated even more if a bill pending in the Legislature passes to require all public school districts to have their elections in November of even-numbered years. Those elections would involve hundreds of candidates for Millard’s office to process and dozens more separate ballots.
“We got our feet wet with this (year’s election) and it’s scary,” she said. “It’s not a question of whether you’re going to make a mistake, it’s a question of when.”

Follow Us
Rate this Article
VN:R_U [1.9.10_1130]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)