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Voter precincts expected to increase

October 08, 2005|By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Washington County's population growth is affecting more than schools, roads and home prices.

Washington County Board of Elections officials say they're anticipating a 12 percent increase in the number of registered voters for the 2006 election, a trend that's expected to continue beyond 2010.

More voters mean more voting machines, more precincts and more election judges, which means the Election Board will need a bigger budget.

Election Board officials presented the information to the County Commissioners on Tuesday.

"We want to keep you folks informed of what's going on from our perspective," Election Board president Charles Mobley said.

With about 9,900 new voters anticipated from 2004 to 2006, the Election Board will need four new precincts, possibly 30 additional voting units and eight new chief judges for the 2006 elections.

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"This is probably the most we have to do at one time," Election Board Director Dorothy Kaetzel said Friday.

Kaetzel said the board has never seen such growth so quickly.

Mobley told the commissioners he anticipates voter growth to cost the Election Board about $120,000 in fiscal year 2006-2007.

The county currently has about 82,000 registered voters.

The four new precincts will be in Boonsboro, Smithsburg, Maugansville and Hagerstown - areas that are experiencing considerable voter increases, Kaetzel said.

"Once they hit around 3,000, that is a lot of voters for a precinct," Kaetzel said Friday.

The number of registered voters in the county could grow by as many as 19,000 by 2010. Preliminary information indicates five new precincts will be needed in the 2008 election and 20 more voting units. Three more precincts will be needed in 2010, along with 30 more voting machines, according to information provided by the Election Board.

Kaetzel, however, said the number of additional voting units are just estimates and that the state decides how many will be needed.

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