North-metro cities revamp voting maps

  • Article by: MARIA ELENA BACA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 31, 2012 - 10:01 PM

People, legislative boundaries on the move lead to changes.

North-metro city officials are wrapping up their once-a-decade exercise in political map work -- redrawing boundaries for City Council wards and voting precincts. Now, it will be up to voters to get to the right polling places for the primary and general elections.

Most councils have approved plans that adjust wards and precincts in response to statewide shifts in population shown by the 2010 census. Coon Rapids, Crystal and Brooklyn Park will vote on their redistricting plans by the Tuesday deadline.

A judicial panel approved changes in congressional and legislative district boundaries in February. After the cities complete their work, it will be counties' turn, and each voter's updated information must be forwarded to the Minnesota secretary of state by May 8.

"It is a big job, but we're ready for it," Anoka County Elections Manager Cindy Reichert said. "We've been planning for it for quite some time."

Registered voters will receive a postcard from their counties of residence before the August primaries, with updated ward, precinct and polling place information. That information also will be available through each city's clerk, and at the secretary of state's Poll Finder site, at pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.

Some north-metro cities -- Anoka, Champlin, Circle Pines, Columbia Heights, Lexington and St. Francis -- needed no changes to ward or precinct boundaries. Others have seen major changes. In Coon Rapids, Council Members Bruce Sanders and Paul Johnson would both now live in the newly configured Ward 3 that has been proposed. Though they will serve out their terms, only one would proceed in Ward 3 past the 2014 elections.

Blaine added two new voting precincts to account for housing developments on land that was sod farms the last time the lines were drawn. In Brooklyn Park, precincts were realigned with school district boundaries to ensure every voter in a precinct receives the same ballot.

Here are some other shifts:

Andover: Some voters who were in a rapidly growing Precinct 7 now are in Precinct 8. Voters in both precincts still will cast their ballots at the Andover Community Center Field House.

Blaine: Although boundary lines moved, council members remain in the same wards. The city added two voting precincts and two new polling places, at Brook Hall and the Minnesota School of Business.

Brooklyn Center: Although precinct lines remain the same, several polling places have changed. Precinct 1 voters will vote at Earle Brown Elementary School; Precinct 6 will vote at Brookdale Covenant Church; and Precinct 7 will vote at Odyssey Academy Charter School, the former Northport Elementary.

Brooklyn Park: Lines were redrawn to group the city's voters according to its three school districts. The City Council will vote on the plan Monday.

Coon Rapids: Wards 3 and 5 are shifting, leaving Johnson and Sanders both in the new Ward 3. The city also is adding polling places at the new Coon Rapids Ice Arena and Bunker Hills Golf Club. The council will vote on the plan Tuesday night.

Crystal: The council will vote Tuesday on a plan that adds three new voting precincts, to line up with legislative district changes. Council wards will remain the same.

Fridley: The city combined Precincts 4 and 5. The reconfigured Precinct 4 will continue to vote at North Park Elementary.

New Hope: Precinct boundaries were changed to balance population; the number of precincts dropped from 11 to eight, which the city hopes will reduce election-related costs.

Oak Grove: The city added a fourth precinct to align with a legislative line change dividing off the southern quarter of the city. The new polling place is at the senior center.

Ramsey: The city is redrawing boundaries to balance population growth in council Ward 1 and loss in Ward 2. Precinct lines will change in the northeastern section of Ward 1 with changing legislative districts.

Spring Lake Park: The dividing lines now are Hwy. 65 and 81st Avenue NE. People south and west of that intersection will vote at Spring Lake Park High School, and those who are north and west will vote at Park Terrace Elementary.

Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409

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