We vote 'yes' to cut precincts

April 10, 2014 

We've used a lot of ink railing against the existence of the East St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners as a $600,000 expense that the city can ill afford and St. Clair County could easily absorb at a fraction of the cost. That remains our stance.

Yet out of East St. Louis comes a bit of leadership on election cost controls: precinct consolidation.

In 2009 the city consolidated its 44 precincts into 25. Madison County did the same thing, to a lesser degree, after the 2010 Census.

So now St. Clair County is looking at the issue. One precinct has 146 voters, another has 1,555 and only about one third fall within the state law's limits.

According to county Chairman Mark Kern, it's an easy enough task for the county mapping folks to figure out. So it appears political will is the main issue.

We hope the county moves rapidly toward precinct consolidation and puts its support behind County Board member Frank Heiligenstein's proposal to allow further consolidation by bumping the maximum voters per precinct from 800 to 1,200. That requires a change in state law.

The bottom line for us is the bottom line: If $300,000 can be saved every two years as Heiligenstein projects, that is well worth the effort and is owed to voters and taxpayers.

Early and absentee voting changed the landscape -- 43 percent of East St. Louis residents in March voted early and often... er, we mean absentee. So we're not likely to face crowded polling places by consolidating.

That $300,000 could go a long way toward some public good. Imagine the high-speed rail stations to nowhere we could design with some spare cash.

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