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Census-driven process to create more precincts in Buckeye

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PHOENIX — Maricopa County will have a new set of 832 precincts.
Monday, the county’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a map of boundaries for 832 voting precincts.

That’s an increase of 84 new precincts since the last time boundaries were redrawn in 2018.

Scott Jarrett is the director of election day and emergency voting for the Maricopa County Elections Department. He and two county judges walked the supervisors through more than 130 changes that are largely the result of the fast-paced growth of Maricopa County and Arizona in general.

The 2020 U.S. Census showed the county has grown to more than 4,420,000 residents, and has grown by more than 200,000 people since the 2010 census and by more than 1 million residents since 2000.

“A precinct is the smallest jurisdiction that helps us build an election,” Jarrett said. “For the November 2020 election, we had a 10,000-page canvas, and for the August 2020 primary, we had 15,000 different ballot types. And it all starts with precinct boundaries.”

The supervisors praised the hard work of Maricopa County election and judicial officials and others. Jarrett and judicial officials hosted five public feedback meetings — one for each supervisor district.

The newly approved boundaries will go into effect Jan. 2, 2022.

The five online feedback meetings involved outlining some of the limitations and aims of county staff.

For example. staff aimed for a head count of 5,000 residents per precinct, which is easy to do for built-out parts of the county, but tougher for communities with projected or planned residential growth, such as Buckeye, Mesa or New River.

Jarrett said about 20 homes or housing complexes have been built in the county in recent years directly on top of previous precinct boundaries.

He said this is why lines were redrawn, in those cases.
He said county staff tried to draw boundaries along major streets, rail lines, canals or other items that tend to separate neighborhoods.

District 4 Supervisor Clint Hickman said he is concerned about the naming of new precincts. He envisioned someone associating a name with a past or present negative event or action in the area.

“I just hope those names are vetted, in some way,” Hickman said.

Jarrett said precinct names are often chosen based on a landmark in the area, such as a school, landform or the name of major street or road in the area.

Precinct boundaries must align with 26 judicial district boundaries. Jarrett said county staff will also follow the process of the Independent Redistricting Committee’s final maps of Congressional and state legislature district boundaries.

The redrawing the five supervisor district boundaries — doesn’t need to be completed until July 1, 2022.

Reprecincting does not affect the total number of voting centers for each election, Jarrett said. One voting center is typically used to serve multiple voting precincts, he said, and the Elections Department will determine the 2022 voting center need at a later stage, when more data is available.

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