Dozens of voting precincts could be shed in Youngstown

Mahoning County Board of Elections Director Joyce Kale Pesta

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Mahoning County Board of Elections could get rid of up to one-third of the voting precincts in the city of Youngstown.

That proposal will be discussed at a public meeting Dec. 17. Population data shows the city does not need as many voting precincts.

In addition, Mahoning County Board of Elections Director Joyce Kale Pesta said voter turnout in most of the Youngstown precincts is always 25 percent or less. In the higher population areas of the 4th and 5th wards, it can get up to 40 percent, but she said that is still very low voter turnout.

“People who are in the 4th ward might be in the 5th ward. People in the 4th ward might be in the 3rd ward this time. So there is a lot of changing to do before the next May primary,” Kale-Pesta said.

The Board of Elections is getting rid of 32 of the city’s 77 precincts. Kale-Pesta said eliminating the precincts will save the county between $25,000 and $30,000 each election.

“We are also combining precincts at the Board of Elections to make voter population a little higher in each precinct too,” Kale-Pesta said.

Last fall, Youngstown City Council voted to redraw the city’s ward lines, so at least one council member said a proposal to eliminate the precincts is long overdue.

“Redrawing the wards is a very good idea that should have been done years ago,” Youngstown 3rd Ward Councilman Nate Pinkard said.

The state average for precinct size is 1,000 voters per precinct. In Youngstown, some precincts had fewer than 150 voters.

Pinkard said he will be at the meeting where the changes are proposed.

“I hope they keep in mind that the goal is to keep voting open and accessible to the people and not restricting,” Pinkard said.

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