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City Plans to Redraw Voting Wards

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Following the 2010 census, Athens City Council and Athens County will be making changes to voting wards and precincts within the area.

Athens City Council adopted the changes to the voting wards on Dec. 19 of 2011. Clerk of Council Debbie Walker said the entire council introduced the move.

“It was done just after the results of the 2010 census came out. The whole council voted on it.” Walker said.

The city was the first to adjust the voting wards. City Planner Paul Logue was the one responsible for re-designating which wards were expanded or shrunk.

“[Ward redistribution] is based of off population, although I am not sure of the exact numbers at the moment,” Ben Abfall of the Athens County Auditor’s office said. “But Logue got the census data, then redistricted the wards. He followed the census blocks, so then it was my responsibility to make sure the precincts would fit within the wards’ new changes. From there, it was sent to the Athens County Board of Elections.”

The city approved and moved forward on the ward changes after they received the census data. The county, however, waited, due to 2012 being a presidential election year.

“We did not want to adjust anything right before a major election, that just would have made things all the more confusing,” Carol Perry, a clerk for the Board of Elections, said. “The city contacted us and said that they were going to work on the wards because they had the census data.”

Debra Quivey, director at the Board of Elections, said there is no statute saying when the precincts have to be redrawn.

“We contacted the state board of elections and they said there was not a statute saying when exactly the new changes should be completed. The city had to do its changes because there was a city wide primary,” Quivey said.

Some of the changes were very minor. Most adjusted small sections of the existing wards to neighboring wards. The majority of the changes were from the first to the third and fourth wards. These changes were centered around Congress Street, West Carpenter Street, Mound Street, North Lancaster and Green Street. One change that was slightly different was the move of the length of University Terrace from first to fourth wards and the move of Park Place and Ohio University’s Scott Quadrangle from second to first.

“Essentially, this split the Baker University Center in half,” Abfall said. “It is strange because that is not a residential, so the population in the general area must have changed enough to affect it.”

Athens County’s general population has increased, according to the 2010 census, by about two thousand people. The majority of the population is concentrated in the city of Athens. The wards now accommodate the new population trend, and the county has followed suit.

“Most of it was just making sure that the precincts and the wards would line up,” Perry said. “Most of the changes were within the city though.”

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