Before going out to vote next week, residents living in the northernmost parts of Baltimore should check to make sure their polling places have not changed, election officials say.
The city election board has slashed 36 polling places, from 108 to 72, in the vast 27th Ward along the city's northern border, said Barbara E. Jackson, the city election administrator. The changes will be in effect for Tuesday's primary election.
The 27th Ward is by far Baltimore's largest, both geographically and in the number of registered voters. Spanning the city's northern perimeter, its approximate boundaries are Reisterstown Road to the southwest, Cold Spring Lane to the south, Belair Road to the southeast and the Baltimore County line to the
north, northwest and northeast.
Elections officials say 76,094 of Baltimore's 316,462 registered voters live there.
Ms. Jackson said the reduction is part of a long-term plan to reduce the number of precincts, or polling places, throughout the city. The reductions bring the total number of polling places to 372, down from 408 last year.
"In Baltimore City, on just about every street corner there is a polling place," Ms. Jackson said. "What I would really like to see in the next five to seven years is to have no more than 300 precincts throughout the city. We're looking at between 250 to 300 precincts."
She said it still is more convenient to vote in the city than in any Baltimore suburb. She said most city voters have to walk only a few blocks to vote.
"The average person shouldn't mind going five to six blocks to a polling place," she said.
Ms. Jackson said fewer precincts will make it easier to recruit election judges, especially Republicans.
Linda B. Pierson, a former Republican member of the Board of Elections, said the changes also were made necessary by shrinking population in the 27th Ward. She said election officials have sent new cards to voters whose polling places have changed.
"In most cases, I believe, there is not much change in where people go to vote," said Ms. Pierson, who is on the state's election board. "There may be isolated places in other parts of the city."
Any city voter not certain of the appropriate polling place for the Sept. 12 primary should call 396-5550 or 396-5580.