Due to low voter registration numbers and low voter turnout, the Erie County Board of Elections is proposing Corry Ward 4 be consolidated with Corry Ward 3, and if approved, would take effect as of the Nov. 7, 2017, general election.
A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Monday, Aug. 28, at 10 a.m. in front of Judge William Cunningham in Courtroom 206A at the Erie County Courthouse, 140 W. 6th St., Erie.
The voting site for Corry Ward 4 is the Corry Community Center, 15 S. 1st Ave., and the voting site for Corry Ward 3 is the First Presbyterian Church of Corry, 607 W. Smith St.
"The Judge of Elections in Corry 4 had mentioned to us a while ago that voter turnout at that location hasn't been good," said Erie County Clerk Doug Smith. "We did a little research, and for most elections, the numbers have been below the county average."
The number of registered voters in Corry Ward 4 is 683 and the total number in Ward 3 is 1,206. By combining the two, a total of 1,889 registered voters will be included in the combined ward.
According to numbers from the county, voter turnout in Ward 4 in the 2014 primary election was 11.53 percent; in the 2014 general election, the turnout was 29.85 percent; in the 2015 primary election, the turnout was 17.79 percent; in the 2015 general election, the turnout was 21.41 percent; in the 2016 primary election, the turnout was 27.89 percent; and in the 2016 presidential election, the turnout was 59.35 percent.
By eliminating the site, the county would realize a savings of about $600 to $700 per election by not having to deliver voting machines and not having to pay county employees to review and tally the final results, according to Smith.
"We spend about $200,000 a year on workers for districts around the county, so whether a district has a seven percent turnout or a 50 percent turnout, we are paying the same amount of money," Smith said. "But, we can't change the voting district without the involvement of the courts."
The upcoming hearing is open to the public and anyone who would like to file an objection to the proposed consolidation must do so by Friday, Aug. 25, at the Erie County Prothonotary Office, located in Room 120 inside the Erie County Courthouse.
The objection must contain written reasons why the individual is objecting to the consolidation.
Cunningham is expected to make a decision the day of the hearing and details about the consolidation, if approved, would shortly follow, Smith said. An official mailing would also go out to all affected residents.
The voting site for Corry Ward 1, which has a total voter registration of 381, is Corry Area Middle-High School, 534 E. Pleasant St. The voting site for Corry Ward 2, which has a total voter registration of 1,073, is Corry Area Primary School, 426 Wayne St.
Smith said it is a possibility that the county will also look at combing Corry Ward 1 with another ward as it also has a low number of registered voters.