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Commissioners to consider new voter precincts

Denton County commissioners will consider boundary changes to county election and commissioners' precincts Tuesday. If approved, the 21 new voter precincts would be added beginning Jan. 1.

According to county documents, nine precincts are in excess of 5,000 active voters: 1004, 1029, 1032, 2017, 2028, 4003, 4007, 4032 and 4034. Nine other precincts have a population of 4,000 active voters and could grow to more than 5,000, according to county officials. They are 1017, 1025, 1031, 1036, 3030, 4018, 4033 and 4036.

It's being recommended the voter precincts be split into 21 new precincts, increasing the current number of voting areas from 158 to 179. A county election precinct must have no more than 5,000 registered voters, according to Texas statute.

Additionally, the city of Frisco is requesting  a portion of Commissioner Precinct 2 — voter precinct 2035 — become part of voting precinct 1036 in Commissioner Precinct 1.

County commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. at the Courthouse on the Square, 110 W. Hickory St., to discuss the issue and other county business.

Texas Election Code states commissioners may order voter precinct changes in March or April of an odd-number year, and if approved, those changes take effect the first day of the following even-numbered year.

Election officials met with the county Republican and Democratic parties to discuss the precinct changes in February, said Frank Phillips, county elections administrator. Changes were made that Phillips said give the ability to group precincts sharing the same cities and/or towns and school districts. Voter precinct changes make things more manageable and lessen the drive time for some voters who may travel a distance to vote.

He added that Precinct 1004, which currently includes Savannah, Little Elm, a portion of Prosper in county limits, a portion of Celina in county limits and an unincorporated area with a portion of Pilot Point, was the most unique of the precinct changes with the voting area being split five ways.

"The majority of the splits are over on the Frisco-380 Corridor area where we're having a lot of growth," Phillips said. "380 is crazy over there — booming."

Additional precincts could mean an increase in poll workers and polling locations during elections, according to county officials. The exact financial impact was not disclosed in county documents.

Phyllis Wolper, Denton County Democratic Party chairwoman, said proposed changes to the precinct boundary lines are "totally a bipartisan agreement." The changes, she said, will not move current precinct chairpersons for either party out of their voting area.

She said the changes are expected to make things more uniform, polling locations clear and alleviate long lines at the polls, she said.

"It's not redistricting," Wolper said. "It is merely creating new precincts to handle voting populations of an area. Here in Denton County, we do strive to make voting convenient and easy. There's always room for improvement, and this is one of the steps we take to make [things] easier."

A request for comment by Lisa Hendrickson, Denton County Republican Party chairwoman, was not returned by press time.

To view Tuesday's entire meeting agenda, visit http://bit.ly/2pY5kJp.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876.