In an effort to reduce election day lines, the Pittsfield Township Clerk’s office is creating three new precincts.
New precincts will mean a new polling place for some Pittsfield Township residents. If you live in the Saline Area Schools district, there’s a good chance your new polling place will be Saline High School.
Last week the board voted 7-0 to approve an agreement that allows the township to use the Ellen A. Ewing Performing Arts Center stage as a polling place. On high turnout election days, the township will also have access to the “black box” room used for rehearsals across the hall.
Clerk Michelle Anzaldi told the board there are 5,000 Pittsfield voters in the Saline school district. They vote at the township hall, Washtenaw Christian Academy and the Pittsfield Community Center, along with 6,000 other Pittsfield voters.
“Because of the way precincts were set up a long time ago and because Pittsfield has been growing, we are near or at capacity for all of these precincts and we really need to do something,” Anzaldi said.
Deputy Clerk Lyn Sebestyen toured the school with Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Graden and high school principal David Raft. She said the space offered by the school district would be adequate.
“A lot of people living in Saline could be voting at a more convenient location,” Anzaldi said. ““Allowing the township to use the high school would reduce wait times because we would be reducing the size of the voter rolls. It’s also a centrally located building.”
She said the school district could potentially save money when placing a single issue on the ballot because it would only have to pay for two polling locations instead of three.
Anzaldi said the township is not sharing maps that detail the redistricted precincts, but she did say the high school would serve about 4,000 voters.
Graden said he toured the building with high school principal David Raft and township officials.
“We came up with a solution that segments our student population during the day. We determined the auditorium stage was a large enough space to meet their needs,” Graden said.
Having an election at the school may also be an educational opportunity, officials from the district and township said. Anzaldi said students would be eligible to work at the polls.
Trustee Scott Hummel asked if voters will be able to enter the school.
“During the school day? Absolutely not. Every door will be locked. We’ve also talked about having a public safety presence at the entrance during the election,” Graden said.
If voters come to the front door, they will be redirected to the polling entrance.
“The will not be escorted through the building to the polling place,” Graden said.
Board VP Paul Hynek asked about parking. Graden said part of the parking lot will be roped off and dedicated for voters.
Trustee Dennis Valenti asked when voting is heaviest? Sebestyen replied that voting was heaviest from 7 to 8 a.m., at noon and at 5 p.m.
Anzaldi noted that 100 percent of the people voting at Saline High School would be Saline Area Schools district residents.
After the meeting Anzaldi said the township is in the preliminary stages of creating three new precincts and obtaining confirmation of all the polling locations.
“Once that is complete, we will realign all the precincts. We are still in the process of creating a map but nothing is finalized,” she wrote in an email.