Precinct boundaries changing in New Castle and Carbondale
The boundaries of several voting precincts in Garfield County are being adjusted for growth prior to the 2018 caucuses.
Voters in Carbondale’s precincts 1 through 4, and New Castle’s 14 and 15, will receive notices by mail explaining in which precinct they reside after the changes are finalized. These changes will not occur until after the Nov. 7, 2017, Election Day.
In Carbondale, a precinct boundary that ran through the middle of town is being shifted out to Highway 133. This adjustment places 1,569 active eligible voters in precinct 1, and 1,584 in precinct 2. Currently, there are 1,127 voters in the former, and 2,026 in the latter.
“Precinct 1 was the smallest precinct in this area,” Election Clerk Pam Bunn told the Garfield County commissioners. “This evens out the numbers.”
Also shifting in Carbondale is a boundary between precincts 3 and 4. The boundary that bisects the Aspen Glen subdivision is shifting to Highway 82, from its current line along the Roaring Fork River. Precinct 3 will increase to 1,565 active eligible voters, from 1,429. Precinct 4 will then shrink from 1,659 to 1,523.
In New Castle, a precinct boundary near Lakota Canyon Ranch is being moved to follow Castle Valley Boulevard to Alder Avenue. Another boundary line on the outskirts of New Castle along U.S. 6 is being moved to the Colorado River. These adjustments will increase Precinct 14’s numbers from 1,040 to 1,578, while precinct 15 will drop from 2,151 to 1,613.
“There is a lot of growth going on in this area,” Bunn said of the Lakota and Castle Valley subdivisions.
“We’re thinking of these changes due to the ebb and flow of voters,” Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Jean Alberico told the commissioners. “We’re hoping this will work for us and keep us below 2,000 active eligible voters per precinct, until at least the 2020 presidential election. Shortly after that, we’ll have census results, and probably in 2021 or 2022 we’ll have redistricting, which is done at the state level.”
She added that projected increased growth likely means more precincts will need to be created.
Because Colorado now conducts all elections with mail-in ballots at the county level, along with in-person voting options, the precinct adjustments won’t affect voters. Instead of precinct-level polling locations, Colorado offers Voter Service and Polling Centers, which allow the county’s registered voters to appear at any voting center for services.
“Precinct numbers are now primarily used by political parties to create an organizational framework, recruit leadership, and allow voters to participate in precinct-level caucuses in general election years,” Alberico said.
Counties are also required to set up general elections by precinct, allowing political parties and interested citizens to analyze voting data.
Garfield County’s 27 precincts are established by the Clerk and Recorder’s Office for every 1,500 active eligible voters. A 2012 resolution authorized as many as 2,000 active eligible voters in a precinct, with county commission approval. Growth in certain areas necessitates that the precinct boundaries are adjusted periodically. These boundaries follow natural features, such as rivers and drainages, as well as roadways.
The commissioners will vote on the adjustments in the next consent agenda, which goes before the board in early October.
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Garfield County is seeking to qualify its four west-end communities for Colorado’s Rural Jump Start program, providing tax breaks for new businesses.