Shelby TownshipAugust 30, 2013
Clerk’s Office reroutes poll locations for 21,000 Shelby voters
By Sarah Wojcik
C & G Staff Writer
Shelby Township Clerk Stanley Grot explains the recent voting precinct changes that affect more than 20,000 voters at a press conference at the township municipal building Aug. 26. Deputy Clerk Brian Fairbrother, who helped with the office’s endeavors, sits to the left.
SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The clerk’s office sent notification letters and reissued voter registration cards to more than 20,000 Shelby Township residents after a series of precinct changes, which stemmed from one precinct nearing its maximum voter capacity.
In the spring, Elections Coordinator Cari Neuman notified Shelby Township Clerk Stanley Grot that precinct 17 was 50 voters shy of its state-mandated 2,999-voter maximum, which sparked a closer look into township precincts and resulted in an elimination of three locations, an addition of two, as well as several redirections to existing polling locations.
The clerk’s staff worked to split the overcrowded precinct 17 into two smaller precincts, which had to be approved by the election committee. They combined two precincts — 8 and 15 — into just precinct 15 and created a new precinct 8 from the newly split precinct 17. The Board of Trustees approved the redirection of precincts to different poll venues in two phases.
Grot said the changes were made to serve voters more efficiently and comfortably by moving more voting locations closer to where the majority of voters reside within their respective precincts.
Two of the eliminated polling locations — the building at Mae Stecker Park and the Boys and Girls Club — had limited voting space and insufficient parking space, Grot said.
“Mae Stecker had a very small building, very little ventilation, very little lights,” Grot said, adding that precinct voters will now go to Crisman Elementary. “In case of a rain, voters had to actually wait outside.”
As for the Boys and Girls club, he said his staff felt because of growth in the area, as well as potential growth for the future, they had to make changes and moved the location to King of Kings Lutheran Church.
The last eliminated location was the Shelby Township Senior Center, and Grot said that the Tuesday Election Day traffic always interfered with seniors’ activities.
The two new locations are Shepherd’s Gate Church and St. John Vianney Catholic Church.
“It is very difficult to find polling locations — they cannot be in private homes or businesses, but must be nonprofits like churches, community centers, schools and fire stations,” Grot said, and added that the location must be on a major road or thoroughfare.
Grot assured that all 8,500 current absentee voters would not need to take any action to continue receiving an absentee ballot for all elections.
Neuman said that all old precinct locations by law will have signage redirecting voters to the new locations in case they have lost their voting cards, forgotten where their new precincts are or, by habit, gone to their old precincts. The new locations also will have signage.
She said she is thankful that this is a slow election year. The only election this year is for a millage for Romeo schools that affects two precincts. Next year will be busier: a possible special election in May for road funding, as well as definite elections in August and November.
“We are going to test this next election and see how it works,” Grot said. “From the phone calls and letters I’ve received, the majority of voters approve these changes by thanking us for moving those locations closer to where they live.”
He added that the arrangement is not perfect because some people are used to going to a location for many years and others may have to drive further so that the majority of the precinct’s population could be closer to their location, but overall, he said he feels the initiative is a positive thing.
Chief Dave Faber said he preferred going to King of Kings Lutheran Church because it was on his way to work at the Utica Police Department, and he was familiar with the venue because some of his family members attend the church. Now, he will vote at Shepherd’s Gate.
On the other hand, Darlene Ivan said she is pleased with her location switch from Roberts Elementary to Switzer Elementary. She said the new location is within walking distance.
Summer interns conducted much of the legwork for the precinct relocations, Grot said, and all of the changes are finalized.
“We ended up with 17 (locations), and (precinct) 17 was where we started,” Neuman joked.
Neuman said the Clerk’s Office changed poll locations for 21,193 of Shelby Township’s 54,246 voters.
A comprehensive map of all precincts as they currently stand is available on www.shelbytwp.org. Select “Clerk” under “Departments” and then click on “Updated Precinct Locations.”
For more information, please call the Clerk’s Office at (586) 731-5102.