Phipps will add 27 polling sites before November
June 20th, 2012
Omaha, NE – The Douglas County Election Commissioner formally announced Wednesday that he plans to add 27 polling sites in Omaha before the November elections.
The Douglas County Election commission closed 32 percent of the polling sites in Douglas County in a budget-cutting move earlier this year. After complaints that the cuts disproportionately impacted poor and minority neighborhoods in the city, Commissioner Dave Phipps said he regrets not meeting with the public first to gather input. At a press conference on Wednesday, Phipps said he wants to create a better product that works for the community.
“This was a financial decision for us,” Phipps said. “We’re always trying to look for ways to save money, to make things more efficient.” Phipps said he has examined the closures to decide “what reasonable changes we can make… where can make improvements, and I think we’ve done that.”
Phipps said the commission has created 30 new precincts, adjusted 69 additional precincts and added 27 polling places. Secretary of State John Gale, who also attended Wednesday’s press conference, said changing precinct lines or polling sites is a dynamic process that happens in every state.He said he did have concerns about the initial closures, but has full confidence in Phipps to correct the situation.
“You can’t have an election administration system that simply stresses budget,” Gale said. “It’s got to also balance a convenience of the voter and accountability and accessibility of the voters.”
Moving forward, Phipps said the commission wants more public input on the current proposal, which can be viewed on the Douglas County Election Commission website and at Omaha Public libraries. Phipps said public feedback is encouraged, and after July 3rd the proposal will be sent to Secretary of State Gale’s office for review.
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