Changes remove empty precincts

Feb 1 2012 - 12:01am

FARMINGTON -- The middle of Great Salt Lake may no longer be a campaign stop for candidates.

Redrawing Davis County's proposed voting precinct map in response to redistricting has eliminated many of its precincts -- including two in the middle of Great Salt Lake -- that were without voters.

By modifying its initially proposed map boundaries, with state approval, the county has cut the number of its proposed voting precincts from 231 to 201 -- with 197 of the precincts having voters, said Davis County Elections Coordinator Pat Beckstead.

The new proposed map is much cleaner than the county's earlier effort, she said.

The previous map, as a result of state regulations, "had 14 (precincts) with no voters in them and 10 (precincts) with fewer than 100 voters," Beckstead said.

With modifications, the county now has only five precincts with 100 or fewer voters, she said.

The Davis County Commission approved the new precinct map Tuesday. It will now be sent to the Lieutenant Governor's Office for review and final approval.

That process is anticipated to take five to 30 days.

"Hopefully, we won't be back," needing to make more changes to the map, Beckstead told the commission.

The Weber County Commission on Tuesday also approved a modified voting precinct map, allowing it to eliminate some of the voting precincts with few or no voters.

"We're done," said Douglas Larsen, Weber County's chief deputy clerk and election director.

But despite the county's best efforts to narrow further, four precincts in Davis County are still without voters, Beckstead said.

Two of the four precincts border U.S. 89 and Legacy Parkway on-ramp/off-ramp access property, while one takes in Antelope Island -- with a single residence -- and another has a Fruit Heights house on the East Bench, bordering U.S. Forest Service land, she said.

Each county's entire land mass has to be assigned to a voting precinct, with the boundaries of any one voting precinct not crossing congressional, legislative or state school board seat boundaries as identified by the Legislature, Beckstead said.

In Davis County, those areas consist of two congressional seats, five Senate seats, 10 House seats and two state school board seats.

"Interesting process," said Davis County Commissioner Louenda Downs.

Davis County may have been the first county to submit its proposed precinct map to the state for final approval, which it did in December.

But it was not the only county to encounter challenges in meeting the state's request.

"(The Lieutenant Governor's Office) realized they had problems like this all over the state," Beckstead said.

The state then asked counties to provide proposed maps on how they would remedy the situation.

On the first map Davis County prepared, 14 precincts had no voters, because the precinct borders encompassed only commercial, industrial or undeveloped properties.

Another 14 proposed precincts were home to 100 or fewer voters.

Beckstead said with the new map, five precincts in the county have fewer than 100 voters.

Precincts have 600 to 700 voters on average.

The largest precinct in Davis County is in Bountiful, she said. It has about 1,200 voters.

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