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District boundaries adjusted to eliminate multiple ballots

Posted: June 9, 2014 - 9:05pm

With little discussion and unanimous approval, some Kenai Peninsula Borough district lines have shifted slightly.

The borough assembly OK’d revisions to six assembly and board of education district boundaries at its Tuesday meeting last week.

The changes stem from the Division of Election’s adjusted precinct boundaries for Alaska Legislative Senate and House of Representatives districts, which were finalized in February.

The assembly-approved revisions eliminate some discrepancies between precinct and district boundaries to eliminate the need for multiple ballots in the adjusted areas.

Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship said the changes might save the borough a bit of money by eliminating some ballots for precincts, but mostly it will make elections less confusing in some districts.

“It definitely eliminates some types of ballots for precincts, but those ballots may have been the same ballot that I used in a different precinct,” Blankenship said. “It’s just that now I don’t have to purchase those for a couple precincts. … It’s going to save more headaches than anything else.”

The changes affected lines for Districts 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9. Only three of the districts saw slight population changes, the other districts only have land changes.

District 5, Sterling and Funny River, lost 23 people, the most. Assembly member Charlie Pierce and board of education member Marty Anderson represent the district.

Pierce said he didn’t hear concerns about the changes to the boundaries from anyone in his district.

“They try to draw up the boundaries so that folks were not affected, but it’s hard to do that,” Pierce said. “You’re always going to affect a few. I think they tried to minimize that.”

District 6, East Peninsula, represented by assembly member Sue McClure and board of education member Lynn Hohl, lost two people.

“The impact isn’t too extreme,” McClure said at a policies and procedures meeting last week. “They were probably valuable people though.”

Assembly member Brent Johnson and board of education member Bill Holt gained 25 people in District 7, Central Peninsula.

District 7 has one of the lowest populations. With the approved boundary changes, its number was bumped up to 5,989. Johnson said the changes were good because the populations among districts are more equalized, and they help the borough clerk by eliminating some ballots.

Remaining service area splits within districts have to be changed by voters, Blankenship said. Because voting precinct lines change every 10 years, the borough would have to change service areas every 10 years to keep up.

“When (service areas) were originally created, they were created based on the precinct,” Blankenship said. “But then of course the precinct has changed, in some cases multiple times, so that’s why you have the crazy splits in the service areas.”

All boundary changes are within 10 percent above or below the allowable population level for each district. The borough is not required to notify people affected by the changes. Blankenship said people could find out if they were affected through the regular public hearing process on the ordinance. Maps of adjusted district boundary lines are available through the borough website, at borough.kenai.ak.us in the assembly packet for the June 3 meeting.

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

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