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New districts means new precincts, polling places for local voters

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image Peg Reese, deputy chief of operations in Hillsborough’s elections office, explains how precinct decisions were made following redrawing of district lines. Melody Jameson Photo

Hillsborough officials are instituting precinct changes that will affect some South County voters in the upcoming 2012 elections.

By MELODY JAMESON

In keeping with new district boundaries, Hillsborough officials are instituting precinct changes that will affect some South County voters in the upcoming 2012 elections.

Those changes, involving both new polling places and new precinct numbers, will impact principally the primary and general election voters south of Ruskin and in Gibsonton.

From the regional perspective, however, most precincts and polling places within them across the South County are to remain unchanged.

And, all registered voters soon will receive new official voter information cards, beginning in the coming week.

These, in a nutshell, were the pertinent announcements made by managers in Hillsborough’s Supervisor of Elections last week when Dr. Earl Lennard and his staff reviewed county-wide alterations driven by the decennial census changes for news media representatives and poll workers.

The biggest change, in terms of numbers, is to transpire in connection with precinct numbers 900, 902, 903, 912 and 948 in the Sun City, Sundance and Cockroach Bay areas south of the Little Manatee River. The 693 registered voters formerly in Precinct 902 and accustomed to marking their ballots on election day at Southside Baptist Church are to join Precincts 912 and 948, with 912 continuing to vote at the church while the 948 polling place becomes Chulavista Landings.

Similarly, the five registered voters in Precinct 900 who have been going to the church on election day will continue to do so, but will now be part of Precinct 912. So will the single voter in Precinct 903 who also will continue to mark ballots at the church, but as part of 912.

The ranks of Precinct 912 also are to be swelled by the 1010 voters who formerly voted at the Elks Lodge on U.S. 41 in Ruskin and beginning in the upcoming elections will be joining the rest of 912 at Southside Baptist Church.

The Gibsonton area change involves Precincts 960 and 945. The 118 registered voters who have been calling the Lake Fantasia Community Center in Precinct 960 their polling place will become Precinct 945 using the First Baptist Church of Gibsonton for their polling.

And the 149 voters who mark ballots each election at the Gardenville Recreation Center as the polling place for Precinct 956 will do the same this year, but as part of Precinct 940.

That’s much the same situation in Balm where the 392 registered voters formerly in Precinct 920 still will cast their votes at the Balm Civic Center, but as part of Precinct 919.

A total of 28 other polling places across the South County are not being altered. This list includes all additional precincts in Apollo Beach, Freedom Plaza, Gibsonton, Kings Point, Riverview, Ruskin, Tropical Acres, Sundance, Sun City Center, Summerfield Crossings and Wimauma.

Citizens’ first official notice of either change or no change will come from the elections office in the next few weeks as they receive their new voter information cards containing precinct numbers, polling location data and other valuable information, said Craig Latimer, SOE chief of staff.

In addition, all voters whose polling places have been changed will receive a post card notice.

Sample ballots, which also contain precinct information, will be mailed to voters prior to the primary elections in August and again prior to the general election in November, Latimer added.

The precinct changes and consolidations, which reduced the total number throughout the county from 383 to 347, has produced several advantages, Latimer noted, including an estimated savings of more than $100,000 and ensuring that all now are compliant with the American Disabilities Act.

Hillsborough citizens can access a wide range of informational topics, from registration deadlines to mail-in ballot request forms to early voting sites on the Supervisor of Elections website at www.voteHillsborough.org.

Copyright 2012 Melody Jameson

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