Citing an increase in early and mail-in voting, the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office plans to reduce the number of polls and precincts for November's election.
The number of polling locations will be reduced from 285 to 270 and the number of precincts will drop from 383 to 347. The reductions will save the county about $105,000 this year.
The Hillsborough County Commission has approved the proposal; the changes also must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Justice before they can go into effect.
Absentee and early voting has steadily increased in recent years. In the 2008 presidential election, 52.3 percent of Hillsborough County voters voted before election day through mail-in or absentee voting and early voting, said Travis Abercrombie, a spokesman for the county's supervisor of elections office.
The redrawn precinct lines reflect the changes that came with redistricting, which takes place every 10 years. Changing the precinct boundaries means taking into account neighborhoods, transportation and access to polls, Abercrombie said.
"Ultimately what we want to do is make sure the voters are serviced," Abercrombie said.
The Hillsborough County League of Women Voters doesn't have an official position on the consolidation, but Mickey Castor, the organization's president, said consolidation and the redrawing of precinct boundaries isn't a bad idea as long as they don't hinder voters' access and ability to cast a ballot.
"I don't think it's a bad idea on the face of it … as long as accessibility is maintained specifically for people who have difficulty getting to the polls," Castor said. "I'm not opposed to it if the accessibility is still insured.
In about a month, voters will receive a new voter information card with the new information, including the voter's district, precinct and polling place. More information is at www.VoteHillsborough.org or the Supervisor of Elections Office at (813) 744-5900.
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