Citizen input prompts reverse of BoCo polling place changes

Sandpoint, Oldtown and Hope polling places will remain status quo

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

Bonner County commissioners voted Aug. 31 to override a previous motion that would have relocated polling places in nine area precincts. County Clerk Mike Rosedale said the reversal came after hearing a barrage of citizen input following the initial Aug. 24 meeting at which the decision was made.

“We thought, you know, we’d been reviewing this for so long in our elections office — we thought we had discussed every angle,” Rosedale said at the commissioners’ Aug. 31 business meeting. “So we went ahead and approved it, but everybody in the public wasn’t involved in those conversations, so we have decided to undo that.”

The Aug. 24 changes would have moved Oldtown voters to the Priest River Event Center; Hope voters to the Clark Fork-Hope Area Senior Center; and Airport, Baldy, Beach, Dover, Humbird, Washington and Wrenco voters all to the Bonner County Fairgrounds. 

According to Rosedale, the moves were part of a larger effort to make voting more efficient and secure.

However, the clerk also noted Aug. 31 that the 2020 Census data and resulting redistricting slated for Legislative Districts 1 and 7 could have an effect on Bonner County’s commissioner districts, requiring some work to ensure that each district is “equal, roughly, in registered voters.” Any changes necessary during that process could affect precincts and polling places, giving even more reason to hold off on any major changes at this time.

“When we look at all that, later on, we may look at this again, but for now we are just going to stay where we were,” Rosedale said.

The resolution Aug. 31 returned Oldtown voters to the Oldtown Rotary Park Visitor Center; Hope voters to the Memorial Community Center and Airport; and Baldy, Beach, Dover, Humbird, Washington and Wrenco voters back to the polling places they used in the most recent election.

“Thank you very much for reconsidering,” said resident Maureen Paterson during public discussion of the resolution, “especially with citizen input.”

Commissioners Jeff Connolly and Steve Bradshaw both voted in favor of returning the polling places back to what they were before the Aug. 24 changes. Commissioner Dan McDonald was not present, but the two aye votes were sufficient to pass the motion.

“I think it’s a good idea to have a larger discussion,” Connolly said, “to make sure we’re all on the same page.

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