FAYETTEVILLE -- Washington County voters will soon have a new tool showing them which election races they are eligible to vote in.
Jennifer Price, the executive director of the Washington County Election Commission, said Monday information showing the boundaries of voting precincts in the county's elections is being finalized and, once approved by the Election Commission, will be sent to the state.
"The state's GIS office will enter the information," Price said. "There will be a link to it on VoterView, and we'll link to it on our website as well. Once the information is entered voters can type in their address and there will be a map showing voters their districts by that address."
VoterView is a source of election information maintained by the Secretary of State's office. Washington County's Election Commission's voter information can be found at votewashco.com. Price said the new precinct information should be approved by the commission on Thursday and then sent to the state.
Price gave the commission a list of 223 precincts the county will be using. Precincts are districts created to administer elections, Price said, including the counting of votes. Precincts divide voters according to the boundaries of larger election districts including those for state House and Senate seats, quorum court districts, city wards, school district zones and constable districts. Before the state approved the use of vote centers in 2014, allowing registered voters to vote anywhere in the county, voters were required to vote in the polling place assigned to their precinct.
Price said the drawing of new precincts was made necessary by changes after the 2020 census. The population changes recorded in the census caused the creation of some new legislative districts and the redrawing of the boundaries of others to equalize the population among the districts.
"We have 223 precincts now," Price said. "In 2020 we had 154."
Price said the need to divide the county into precincts based on all of the other district lines ends with some strange results.
"Some of the precincts we created have lines going through a house," Price said. "So which precinct you're in may be a question of where the front door is and where the back door is."
Price said some precincts currently have no registered voters living in them. She said there are 10 or 12 precincts that have from 5 to 10 voters listed in them.
Price said the new tool giving voters a list of the election districts they're in is based on the best information available to election officials. She said anyone with questions about those districts can call the County Clerk's Office to verify the information.
Commissioner Max Deitchler said it's important for voters to know they can and should check their information.
"Basically we've outsourced this to the voters," Deitchler said.
Kim Dennison, Benton County's election coordinator, said that county has 117 precincts and there are no plans to change in advance of the 2022 elections. Dennison said Benton County creates ballot splits to accommodate the different district lines within precincts. Right now, she said, the county will have 275 different ballots for the May 24 election. For the 2020 primary election, she said, the county had 219 ballots.
Dennison said Benton County may look at redrawing precinct lines next year.
Voters in Washington County can check their voter registration status, find information about registering to vote, apply for absentee ballots and see lists of candidates in upcoming elections at the Washington County Election Commission website at votewashco.com.
Source: Washington County Election Commission