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Precinct lines changed, thousands affected

The Island County Auditor’s Office created 18 new election precincts and altered the boundaries of 31 others.

But the change will have very little impact on Island County voters, Auditor Sheilah Crider said after a meeting with county commissioners Monday afternoon. Precincts are largely a fossil of a mostly bygone era when people voted at polling places instead of through the mail.

Crider showed the commissioners the new, pastel-mottled map of county precincts. She explained that state law requires that a precinct be divided if it exceeds 900 active registered voters.

Crider said it turned out to be a monumental task for her staff, even with much-appreciated help from the assessor’s office. The timeframe was tight because of elections. One staff person even had to drive around to find natural boundaries for the precincts.

“We were frankly awed by what this came to be,” Crider said of the huge amount of work.

Crider said 10,385 voters were affected by the change to the district map. They will each receive a card from the county, explaining what district they are in now.

The district alterations don’t affect the commissioner districts or junior taxing districts. It will mean a slight change for local politics since there will be more precinct committee officers and many precinct boundaries will change.

Crider explained that a bill in the state legislature would have raised the threshold for the maximum number of voters allowed in a precinct, but it died. The county will probably have to re-do the precincts following the 2010 census.

“We’re going to have to go back through this hurdle,” Crider said.

The new precincts are: Camano 2, Countryclub 2, Mabana 2, Sunset 1, Sunset 2, Coles, Saratoga 2, Maxwelton 2, Crosswoods, Triangle Cove 2, Useless Bay 2, Utsalady 2, Lost Lake, Admiralty 2, North Bluff, Bush Point 2, Oak Harbor 16 and Oak Harbor 17.

The commissioners unanimously approved the new precincts, effective April 27, and thanked the county staff for a lot of hard work.

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