By Sheila R. McAfee
Before heading out to polls Aug. 7 for the Primary Election, residents should take note of their precinct location. There have been a couple of changes since the last election in November.
In a continuing effort to streamline the voting process, polling stations have been revised for those in Precincts 2, 4 and 5, according to City Clerk Trish Gearhart.
Based on changes that took place last year, residents assigned to vote at Hedke Elementary School will now cast their ballots at the Kennedy Recreation Center, while those who voted at Anderson Elementary School will now report to the Westfield Activities Center.
New voter registration cards sent out in May reflect these updates, but because it comes on the heels of last year’s restructuring, Gearhart is hoping to avoid any Election Day confusion.
This revision, approved by the Elections Commission and City Council, will move all voting out of city schools, a move Gearhart looked to make when she took office in January.
“It just seemed to be in the best interest of the children not to give the general public free access to the schools,” said Gearhart, adding that her concern has been lauded and criticized.
The main purpose of the August primary is to narrow down candidates for the November election for offices at the federal, state and county levels. As such, voters can only vote within one political party. There is no mixing choices, Gearhart said.
Trenton has some unusual voting dynamics since the residents in the northeast section of the city are part of the Riverview School District. Depending on where they live, Trenton residents will be voting on two or three issues.
Trenton residents will join voters throughout Wayne County in deciding whether or not to renew millage support for art institute services and jail services. Both would be a renewal of at least 10 years.
The art institute levy request is for 0.2 mils, or 20 cents per $1,000 in taxable property value. If approved, the millage would generate $8.28 million in 2012.
In regard to the jail millage, voters are being asked to continue the .9381 tax (94 cents per $1,000 taxable value). If approved, the millage would generate $38.8 million.
The ballot for north Trenton residents will also include a bond proposal to allow Riverview Public Schools to borrow up to $31.9 million for additions and improvements to buildings and grounds, and technology upgrades throughout the district. If approved, the estimated tax levy for 2012 would be 2.51 mills ($2.51 for every $1,000 in taxable property value), for a net increase in 2013 of 6.20 mills.
In anticipation of the August primary, voters should also be mindful of a few deadlines. Residents who want to take part in the August elections, but are not registered to vote, have until July 9 to register.
Those who register to vote absentee will have to give a reason, but Gearhart emphasized that voting absentee is not only for senior citizens.
“It is a popular misconception that absentee is only for seniors,” she said. “If getting to the polls interferes with getting to work on time, or someone works too late to get to the polls in the evening, those residents can register to vote absentee because they expect to be out of the city that day.”
To vote absentee, residents can pick up a ballot, now available at the City Clerk’s office. In order to take the ballot home, voters can pick up their ballot until Saturday, Aug. 4, when the clerk’s office will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Voters then have until 8 p.m. on election day to return the completed ballot.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 7, where absentee ballots will be counted.