By Maureen Schwab
At the end of January, post cards were sent out to all registered voters of Worcester who were reassigned to new voting precincts. The changes, mandated by law, occur every 10 years after the release of the U.S. Census results.
The reprecincting/redistricting process is necessary to insure fair and equitable distribution of voters throughout Worcester’s 10 wards and fifty precincts. However, what is fair and equitable may not make sense to some voters who must now travel to polling places in a different part of the city when in some cases they live across the street from their former polling places.
In Green Island, the reprecincting was good news for the people who live on 5 streets south of Crompton Park. They are back in Ward 8, precinct 1 and no longer have to travel to the South Worcester Neighborhood Center on Camp Street, they will once again be voting at the Code Dept. on Meade St. Those who live on the eight streets either across or a block or two away from the polling place at the Code Dept.on Meade St are now assigned to Ward 10 precinct 5 and will be voting at the Murray Ave. Apts., 50 Murray Ave. Perhaps at this point you are wondering … WHY?
Worcester City Clerk David Rushford and his staff had to comply with a strict set of rules and census information to keep Worcester in compliance with the law. The 2010 census had determined that the city population was 181,045. The population was divided between the 10 wards; 18, 104 people per ward. Each ward was then divided into five precincts; approximately 3,621 people per precinct. The population numbers used to redistrict/repricinct also included everyone under the age of 18 who are not eligible to vote in all elections during the 10 years (2010-2020) before the next U.S. Census is taken. People under the age 18 represent approximately 40,000 people or 22% of the population in Worcester. What the census and redistricting will do is divide a city into equal numbers of people per precinct; but what it does not do is divide the population into equal number of qualified voters per precinct.
If you have been reprecincted to a less convenient polling location, I hope you will continue to exercise your right to vote. If you qualify, you may be able to vote by absentee ballot. Either way, the first step is to register to vote, you cannot simply show up at a polling place and expect to be given a ballot. You must be registered to be given a ballot. Call the Election Commission at 508-799-1134, or go to City Hall in person for help and information. The deadline for the Presidential Primary on March 6 has passed, but you still have time( deadline is August 17) to be included in the State primary ( September 6 ) and the all important State and National election on November 6 at which time we elect a new U.S. Senator and The President of the United States. When you register, you can declare that you are a member of the Green- Rainbow, Republican or Democratic Party, or choose to be listed as unenrolled. Unenrolled voters ( the majority in Worcester) can vote in either party’s primary and in all elections. One need not be a member of any political party to exercise their right to vote, please register ( if you haven’t) and PLEASE VOTE.