State redistricting prompts precinct reshuffling in county
This November voters in some areas of Garfield County will go to new polling places as precinct lines have changed and two new precincts have been created.
New boundaries of state House of Representatives and Senate districts prompted changes to commissioner districts and precincts, said Garfield County Clerk Mildred Alsdorf.
Alsdorf will send cards out to all registered voters in the county on Monday, April 15, telling them what precinct they are in and the location of their polling place.
The county now is split between two House and two Senate districts. The redistricting came about after the 2000 Census showed significant population growth in the state. District boundaries were redrawn to equalize that population growth.
Garfield County is now split between the 61st and 57th House districts. The line between the two runs north to south roughly between Silt and Rifle, taking sharp jogs in some places.
The county is also split between the 7th and 8th Senate districts. Senate District 7 now includes Parachute and Battlement Mesa. Communities to the east remain in Senate District 8, Alsdorf said.
Alsdorf create two new precincts to add to the original 25.
Commissioner District 1, currently represented by Walt Stowe, covers part of Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, and encompass precincts 1 to 10, except 7. District 2, which John Martin represents, includes Precinct 7 and precincts 11 to 18. And District 3, now represented by Larry McCown, consists of precincts 19 through 27, Alsdorf explained.
Stowe’s seat is up for election this year. McCown and Martin were re-elected in 2000.
“The population didn’t change in the commissioners’ districts,” Alsdorf said, “but we had to renumber the precincts.”
Each precinct can have up to 1,200 registered voters, Alsdorf said.
“The commissioners could give me permission to have up to 1,500, but I feel that’s too many in a precinct,” she noted.
Alsdorf also aimed not to split precincts into more than one legislative district.
“I didn’t want dual representative or senatorial districts within a precinct. It confuses the voters and we’d have to have different sets of ballots,” she said.
While that hasn’t happened in Garfield, it has occurred in other counties, she added.
The most significant changes in precinct boundaries came in the second and third commissioner districts, Alsdorf said.
In Commissioner District 2, population growth in the Silt and New Castle areas and the new boundary between the 57th and 61st districts caused Alsdorf to draw a new boundary line between precincts 16 and 17.
The north-south line between the two now follows County Road 331.
The western boundary of Precinct 17 overlaps the dividing line between the 57th and 61st districts.
Another new precinct was created between Silt and Rifle. Precinct 19 now encompasses the Cottonwood Springs Trailer Park, she said.
Alsdorf also made significant changes to precincts 24, 26 and 27. Residents of Morrisania Mesa, east of Parachute and south of Interstate 70, were previously included with Battlement Mesa in one precinct, she said. Now they are in Precinct 24.
The town of Parachute is in its own Precinct 25.
Battlement Mesa is divided between precincts 26 and 27. That boundary line runs down a gully, Alsdorf said.
“Everybody knows where it is,” she added.
Alsdorf was challenged to find landmarks to use as precinct boundaries. While she prefers roads, natural features – such as gullies – have to serve in some spots.
She also had a problem with the Senate District 7 line, which she got from the redistricting committee in Denver.
The northern boundary “had no rhyme or reason,” Alsdorf said, since it wasn’t tied to any landmark, natural or man-made. So with the permission of the secretary of state, she moved it to follow County Road 301.
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