New precinct lines expected to be finalized

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Elections officials said they expect to finalize this week new precinct lines that reflect redistricting for the city of Denton.

Once the final maps are prepared, Frank Phillips, county elections administrator, says the county commissioners’ court must approve them, which will likely be scheduled for the first week of March. Soon after, city voters can expect to see their voter registration cards in the mail with new precinct numbers.

Just as other parts of the state and country had to draw new lines following the 2010 census, Denton saw enough population change, particularly in southern neighborhoods, that it had to draw new lines for city council districts. With the new map, District 4 shrank, District 3 shifted south, and District 2 extended west to Interstate 35. District 1 remained largely intact in central and southeastern Denton.

While the City Council approved a map in late September 2011, it didn’t come soon enough for the county elections office to make an October 2011 deadline with state and federal elections officials, Phillips said.

“We literally didn’t have the time or the manpower to make it,” Phillips said.

However, officials weren’t concerned about missing that first deadline, since the city didn’t have a district-specific election. Instead, they looked ahead to the next window of time to finish the city’s redistricting.

“We were mindful of the date and stayed in touch with the city secretary through the year,” Phillips said.

At least one council member, Kevin Roden, who is seeking re-election to District 1, has been concerned that some voters may be confused by the changes. He invited a group of web developers and computer coders to his home last week to help create an online tool that would help city voters find their district by address. The group registered several domains but have not yet launched the tool.

Robson Ranch was affected by re-districting, but Elma Walker said that she and most of the many residents of the large retirement community already know they are no longer in District 4 and now in District 3.

“We do ask our representative to come talk to us from time to time, because of gas wells and everything else,” Walker said, adding that Council member Jim Engelbrecht has been out at least once, at the community’s invitation, since the change.

The election is May 11. Residents have until April 11 to register to vote. Early voting begins April 29.

To register, residents can prepare an application online through the Texas Secretary of State website, www.sos.state.

tx.us, and mail it in. Or, residents can also apply in person at Denton County Elections Administration. The elections office recently moved to the county administration complex at 701 Kimberly Drive, near Loop 288 and Morse St.

Voters can also double-check their registration directly on the elections administration website, elections.dentoncounty.com.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is pheinkel-wolfe@dentonrc.com .


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