Archive for December 13th, 2009

by jhwygirl

Sounds like the county is on the defensive over its plan to consolidate precincts and close polling stations, with The Indy first on the story.

KPAX has covered it too, and The Missoulian has hit it twice, here and here.

For some time, the county has planned to consolidate precincts. That’s pretty uncontroversial – few even know their precinct. Announcing the consolidations, along with polling place closures has put more than a few people up in arms.

To understand the impact of what it is that the county is proposing to do, check out Forward Montana’s google map of the polling closures around the county, which is darn helpful to visualize the impact to voters.

Honestly, the whole thing has opened me questioning the efficiency of what we had in the first place. They’ve got one polling station there west of Russell and east of Reserve – a dense single and mulit-family saturated area. I live there – yet, I’m currently driving across Reserve to one of the two polling stations east of Reserve, and in what is really a significantly less dense neighborhood, instead of using the polling station about 4 blocks from my home.

How is that making sense? Closing one Franklin School and pushing the bulk of people over Reserve and over to C.S. Porter or Hawthorn? Because Frankly doesn’t seem to be used efficiently right now.

That ain’t planning.

So take a look, people – you too out there in the county. Because instead of talking to the neighborhood councils, at least – who might of been able to provide some cohesive transportation-on-the-ground-practicality to a plan, instead, we’ve got a bunch of colored lines on a spreadsheet that we’re supposed to make sense of.

So glad Forward Montana did that map.

If you are concerned about the closing of polling stations, and want the county to take time to get community input on putting together a plan that is workable, why not sign Forward Montana’s petition?

While you’re at it, think about sending off an email to the Board of County Commissioners. The county Elections Office is asking that public comment be submitted there – and here is a link to their information on the proposal.

Look. I don’t think there’s any evil conspiracy going on here, but I do see one thing that seems to reoccur periodically when it comes to county government business: There’s not a lot of public information put on there on what they’re doing. How many times have I blogged that? Noticing – if it occurs – is short. Stuff like staff reports or maps or attachments aren’t generally available online.

Plain and simple, it isn’t geared towards serving the 2009 citizen of Missoula.

And when there isn’t a lot of public information put out there, and people start asking the county what is going on, county officials sometime seem to get downright indignant, which appears to be the case now. Remember the time-out county administrator Ann Mary Dussault needed when pressed last year about the undefined plan to bring numerous bonds and levys before the voters?

Read that first Missoulian story. Numerous county officials seem to be taking it personally that there is (1) media inquiry into the matter, (2) public interest, and (3) interest groups on both sides of the aisle.

Goodness forbid people get uppity about where and how far they might have to go vote on election day.

Even Ann Mary, though, is in there defending the questions.

So just who is it that’s dug-in on this?

Of all the things government does – and it does a hell of a lot of stuff – everything they plan for is generally geared towards worst case scenarios. Buildings are built to certain earthquake and snow and wind loads….roads are built to roll certain weights. Our highways are built to roll military tanks. Police and sheriff departments train for any number of maxed events, and yet here is the county, closing polling stations based on off-year election traffic.

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