Wood County OKs voting precinct consolidation

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Commission approved voting precinct changes and consolidations on Monday.

Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes and Deputy Clerk Melody Ross appeared before the Wood County Commission Monday to present the plan to consolidate voting precincts.

”We decided to make the changes now so we could notify everyone before the (2020) primary,” Rhodes said.

One of the changes the commission approved was moving Precinct 16 from the 16th Street Fire Station to Parkersburg High School, a multi-precinct location.

Rhodes said that was done because of recent demolition work next to the firehouse. The precinct was temporarily moved to PHS because of the work and now Rhodes wants to make it permanent as part of the consolidation plan.

Notices will be sent to voters informing them of the change.

The county approved the move of Precinct 40 from Worthington Elementary School to Emerson Elementary School, a multi-precinct location.

”Worthington is closing and we need to move that,” Rhodes said of the recent vote by the Wood County Board of Education to close the school.

Emerson is only a few blocks away, still close for the people who used Worthington, he said.

The county approved moving Precincts 54 and 54A from Waverly Elementary to the Waverly Volunteer Fire Department due to the possibility the school would not be available. Waverly Elementary will be voted on later this month for possible closure by the Board of Education.

”The fire station is practically in the backyard of the school,” Rhodes said.

County officials believed the school would end up being closed and the precinct needs to be moved.

The county approved moving Precinct 38 from Calvary Memorial Church to Criss Elementary School, a multi-precinct location, due to the low number of registered voters, 161 total.

”(Precinct 38) is one of our smallest precincts,” Rhodes said.

With electronic voting, multi-precinct locations can have the correct ballot called up on the voting machine when the voter signs in, he said, adding they will be able to keep lines moving faster now.

The county approved moving Precincts 69 and 74 from Franklin Elementary to the cafeteria at Parkersburg South High School, multi-precinct location, to improve voter access to polling precinct.

”(South) has plenty of parking out back,” Rhodes said of handicapped parking availability.

The county approved moving Precinct 79 at the Rodeway Inn to Grace Gospel Church, a multi-precinct location, to improve voter access to the polling precinct.

Rhodes said they have had problems with the precinct being at the Rodeway Inn. At times, they used a meeting room and other times they had to set up in the front lobby.

”Grace Gospel has plenty of room in the gymnasium and in the parking lot,” he said.

The commission approved the closure of Precinct 84 that voted at Pond Creek Volunteer Fire Department.

The plan is to divide the precinct into two and consolidate each part into Precinct 82 (Belleville Community Building) and Precinct 85 (Rockport Church of Christ).

The new precinct line would follow Jerry’s Run Road and Pond Creek Road.

Once consolidated the total number of voters for Precinct 82 would be 787 and the total number of voters for Precinct 85 would be 696.

”Voters will go to whatever side is closer,” Rhodes said.

These moves will eliminate a few supply commissioners, but the number of poll workers will remain consistent as they will still be working with roughly the same number of voters, Rhodes said.

”I hope this will be a greater convenience for the voters,” he said.

Brett Dunlap can be reached at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com