The Butler County Board of Elections (BOE) has opted to reduce the number of polling places in Butler County from 149 to 100. However, voting will be easier for Miami University students because a polling place is being added on the Oxford campus.
According to BOE Director Jocelyn Bucaro, the primary motivation for reducing the number of polling places was to reduce the number of private properties used as polling places.
Bucaro said there was some question as to whether private property owners could exercise control over electioneering taking place on their land.
“There have been questions raised in the past about folks who like to stand outside polling places handing out literature,” Bucaro said. “There have been questions about what the owners of those buildings can do.”
Bucaro said there have been cases of owners asking such people to leave the property.
Public facilities also comply with the American with Disabilities Act, which not all private voting sites had, Bucaro said.
The savings from operating 49 fewer sites will be about $16,000 per election. The savings result from not having to pay rent to private sites and having fewer technical personnel roving from polling place to polling place.
Another reason it is possible to operate fewer polling places is the increasing popularity of early and absentee voting, Bucaro said.
In the 2010 election, 21 percent of voters voted early. Bucaro expects that number to increase this year.
BOE chose which sites to eliminate by calculating drive-times to polling places. Most voters will have a drive of five minutes or shorter. In two or three of the county’s 299 precincts, voters will have to drive 11 or 12 minutes, Bucaro said.
“We took the farthest address in a precinct and calculated driving distance to a polling place in that precinct,” Bucaro said. “That is how we were able to ensure no voted would have to drive an exorbitant distance.”
Voters will be notified of the changes by orange postcards telling them their precinct number and polling place.
Junior Kaitlin Schroeder is pleased there will now be a polling place on campus.
Schroeder is registered to vote in Oxford because she feels more invested in local issues.
“(Having a polling place on campus) will drive up voting,” Schroeder said. “So many people do things out of convenience.”
The first time Schroeder voted in Oxford, she got lost on the way to her polling place, an Episcopalian church.
“Especially for freshmen who don’t know the area, voting on campus is easier,” Schroeder said.