Some Farmington voters set to get new precincts

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published May 11, 2022

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FARMINGTON — A change is on the way for some Farmington residents, as City Council members unanimously approved a special ordinance consolidating six precincts into five and revising the precinct boundaries at an April 18 City Council meeting.

The City Election Commission also approved the changes.

The last time changes were made to Farmington’s precincts was 1973.

The changes will be in effect for the Aug. 2 primary election.

Farmington City Clerk Mary Mullison explained the reasoning for the consolidation.

“Every 10 years, you get a chance to have your districts moved around,” she said. “Your representatives could change, the numbers could change, jurisdictions can change, all up and down, so our numbers were changing and things like that, so it was a good time to look at our boundary setup, as well, because we’re going to notify everyone this year in any case, so this helps us if we can notify them for everything all at once.”

According to a press release from the city of Farmington, only 30%-40% of voters who participated in recent elections voted in-person, and for Mullison, that was the biggest factor in making the decision to consolidate.

“We had a greater absent-voter participation, which means that only 30%-40% of our voters that participate in (an) election actually go to the polls,” she said. “So with six precincts, that was kind of overkill for that, and we decided it was a good time to consolidate down to five. … It’ll save money; it’ll save personnel. (It’s) difficult to find people to work in the elections, and also it will bring some of the polling places closer to the voters the way we now have it set up with the boundary changes.”

Farmington Mayor Sara Bowman expressed gratitude to Mullison and her staff for helping to identify an opportunity for cost-benefit savings for the city.

She does not expect the change to significantly impact Farmington residents.

“Obviously, some folks will be affected, but not greatly,” Bowman said. “I mean it’s only a 2 1/2-square-mile town, so if your precinct changes, you’re not going that much farther.”

All residents who were in the sixth precinct are now in precinct 5.

Mullison said precinct 6 is the “very far, west end of Farmington,” near Drake Road, between Freedom and Grand River.

Going from six precincts to five changes the borders.

“Going from six to five eliminates one precinct altogether, so everyone in precinct 6 will have a change, but to make all the precincts equal, it slightly changes the borders in all the rest of them, as well,” Mullison said. “Just to even everything up, you want to make the precincts about equal sizes so there’s no strain on any one precinct over another. … All the borders from 1, 2, 3 and 4 have been expanded a little bit, so that there are even voters in all of them.”

She added that, “For the border changes, most of them have only moved a couple streets, one way or the other.”

Along with having personnel go from “place-to-place,” Mullison said there will be signage at “old” precinct locations to ensure voters get to the correct precinct.

She said most people will still be voting in the same place that they were.

New voter ID cards are expected to be mailed out this month that will inform residents of what precinct they are in and any new polling locations.

Residents can also view an interactive precinct map at https://bit.ly/FarmingtonVotes.

In 2018, Michigan voters approved a measure that, among other things, allows for “no-reason” absentee voting.

That approval played a pivotal role in Farmington’s decision to consolidate districts.

“We’ve been thinking about consolidating precincts since Proposition 3 in 2018 brought absent-voter ballots to everyone,” Mullison said. “You didn’t need an extra reason to do that, so more and more people were starting to use absent-voter ballots. … When the census turns over and all the redistricting maps are drawn, that gives us an opportunity to make changes that we’ve been thinking about in any case.”

A census is conducted every 10 years, and the last one, in 2020, showed that Farmington’s population increased from “a little over” 10,000 in 2010 to 11,500.

In the last City Council election this past November, Mullison said, 60% of Farmington residents voted via absentee ballots.

In the presidential election in 2020, she said, absentee voting made up 70% of the ballots cast.

From Mullison’s perspective, consolidating to five precincts was “the thing to do.”

“Because of the numbers, because of the (absentee) voting, because of the expense and difficulty of fielding all these polling places, where perhaps our election workers were not being well utilized, they were quiet for most of the day. They’d be reading their books, that kind (of) thing,” she said. “So that was something that was an easy change to make, in my mind, in terms of deciding to do it or not do it. … I’m looking forward to implementing this, the whole thing, for the August and November elections.”

Aside from the savings that are expected, Bowman highlighted what she considers another advantage of consolidating.

“When you factor in the pandemic and the fact that most of the people that have the time to spend those long, long hours at the polling stations tend to be our retired folks, when the pandemic came, they were an at-risk population, so we had some difficulty finding enough people that could spend that many hours,” she said. “So this helps in the human resource aspect, as well.”

Mullison shared a message for Farmington residents.

“There’s always (going to) be a place for someone to vote,” she said. “If anyone has any questions at all about whether they’re still registered, please contact your local clerk’s office. … If anybody has any questions about their registration, their eligibility to vote, where they vote, contact your clerk’s office. That’s what we’re here for.”

For more information, visit ci.farmington.mi.us or call (248) 474-5500.

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