County updates its polling precincts

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SANDPOINT — Bonner County is moving around some of its election furniture around in advance of the May 15 primary.

County commissioners approved a series of modifications and tweaks to voting precincts on Tuesday. The moves are aimed at clearing up confusion and delay at polling places, in addition to complying with state law and bringing precinct boundaries into closer alignment with school district trustee zones.

“We have a few trouble spots that we’ve been getting a lot of complaints about over the years,” said Deputy Clerk Charlie Wurm.

The Kootenai precinct, for instance, has swollen to more than 1,700 voters, which has become too cumbersome for poll volunteers. Wurm said approximately 300 voters will be peeled from the Kootenai precinct and folded into the neighboring Oden precinct. Another 150 Kootenai precinct voters will moved into the Selle precinct, while approximately 55 voters will be assigned to the Sandpoint and Airport precincts.

The bounds of the Selle precinct, meanwhile, will be adjusted so the precinct is no longer bisected by the Grouse Creek precinct, Wurm said.

All of the affected voters will receive written notification of changes to their voting precincts.

“Every voter will get a letter,” said Wurm.

The county is also changing the name of the Sandpoint precinct to the Beach precinct due to ongoing confusion the original name has sowed.

“Every year we have a huge number of people who think — because they live in the city of Sandpoint — they vote in the Sandpoint precinct,” Wurm said.

Changes are also being made to voting in precincts in Priest River to avoid confusion. The city boasts two small precincts — West Bench and West City — but voters from both cast ballots at the same location, the VFW hall.

Wurm said those two precincts will be consolidated and rechristened West Priest River. Some West Bench voters will be moved into the Blue Lake precinct to better align with school district trustee zones.

The county also moved the Dover precinct from commission District 1 to District 2, a move that is meant to bring parity to voter numbers in each of the county’s three districts.

The move has practically no effect because voters cast ballots for all three commissioners regardless of what district they reside in. However, it satisfies a state requirement that counties be divided into districts with roughly equal populations.

“Idaho Code states that the counties will be divided up as equally as possible in three voting districts,” Commissioner Glen Bailey said.

As of Tuesday, District 3 had a population of 8,277 voters, while district 1 and 2 had 8,127 and 8,007 voters, respectively.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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