Pittsfield to redraw voting precincts

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Wednesday January 26, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- Several hundred residents will find themselves voting in different precincts next year after Pittsfield revises its political boundaries.

City officials have begun the process of "re-precincting," which requires Massachusetts communities with 6,200 or more inhabitants to ensure each precinct has nearly an equal number of residents based on the 2010 federal census.

The City Council has until June 15 to adopt a new precinct map and submit it to the Local Election District Review Commission within the Secretary of State office for review and approval. If no changes are necessary, the redrawn precincts will be ready in time for the next presidential primary elections.

"The new map won't be effective until 2012. It won't affect the upcoming city election this fall," said City Clerk Linda M. Tyer in an interview with The Eagle.

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Since local census figures won't be released until March, state elections officials assisting in the re-precincting have developed a preliminary map to indicate how the precincts may change. Based on Pittsfield's 2009 estimated population, the city has 42,432 men, women and children -- down from the 45,793 recorded in the 2000 federal census. When the 2009 population is evenly distributed among the city's 14 precincts -- two for each of the seven wards -- the precinct head count ranges from 3,005 to 3,047.

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"The maximum is 4,000, but if you want to create more precincts that's your decision, not ours," said state election official David Paleologos.

Paleolgos told the council Tuesday night revising municipal political boundaries are the "building blocks" the state Legislature will rely on in redrawing the state and federal districts within Massachusetts.

The simulated map of Pittsfield shows some precincts swapping neighborhoods within wards, such as part of Ward 4A spilling into Ward 4B. Other changes indicate inter-precinct trading, with the biggest change involving Ward 2A picking up streets from precincts 3A, 4A and 5A.

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"These are not huge changes, but minor adjustments likely affecting less than 500 people," Tyer said.

While the city has until mid-June to revise its political map, Tyer hopes the councilors adopt one in early May, before they begin their annual budget review for the new fiscal year starting July 1.

If state elections officials find flaws with the map, they will notify the mayor who will recommend changes to the council for approval no later than Aug. 25.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.


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