Mayor Bart Peterson will present the state election commission with new voting maps today that would cut the number of voting precincts by about a third in 2008.
The reduction to about 590 from more than 900 precincts would mean that fewer poll workers are needed to run the polls, saving the county an estimated $180,000 every election. Fewer poll workers should also help avoid a disaster like the May primary, when dozens of precincts opened late and five didn't open at all because not enough poll workers were recruited.
Today was the deadline for the mayor to submit new precinct maps for the 2008 elections. The reduction will not affect the November elections.
Jackie Nytes, a Democrat council member who chaired an election investigation committee, said she was pleased with the outcome. The mayor's office contracted law firm Ice Miller to work with geographic maps in what she called a "complex math exercise."
I'm struggling a little with the idea you would contract with a law firm to draw those boundaries. When I used to work for the Illinois House Republican staff, there were firms with which the caucuses contracted, and which used computer technology to draw political maps. I'm sure Ice Miller had to turn around and subcontract the work to someone else to get these maps drawn. It's not within the professional expertise of an attorney to draw precinct maps.