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Redistricting mulled at meeting

On Wednesday evening, the Mercer County Board of Elections held its second general public meeting for Princeton residents with the purpose of presenting two possible scenarios for new election districts in the soon-to-be consolidated Princeton.

As requested by the University, in the potential election districts map presented to the audience, all the undergraduate and most of the graduate dorms were drawn into one district, with the main campus covered by only two districts.

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Kevin Zelinsky, the engineer hired by the Board to draw election maps, presented the two election map scenarios to the audience, noting that the Princeton University campus, especially the dorms, was a “hotspot” top priority when drawing up potential map scenarios. Other areas of concern included neighborhoods that were split up and areas including Township-Borough boundary lines.

Dominic Magnolo, chair of the Mercer County Board of Elections, noted that the first map, titled “Scenario One,” took into consideration the suggestions from Princeton’s Joint Consolidation Committee. The “Scenario Two” map was drawn after taking into consideration not only the consolidation committee suggestions, but also the suggestions from Princeton residents after last Wednesday’s public meeting.

“I just want to reiterate Title 19 and the difficulties of following these boundaries when creating districts best for everyone,” Magnolo stated. “We want to keep like neighborhoods together, but at times we have competing advice from the consolidation committee, the University and the residents.”

Although the University was drawn into two districts, Zelinsky mentioned that there are still some things to take into consideration. With regard to the positive outcome of the election districts redrawing, Zelinsky mentioned that there is still a bit of disparity between high and low voter registration amongst the districts. For example, one of the districts that encompasses the undergraduate dorms has over 3,000 registered voters, while the second district of the University has only 630 registered voters.

Magnolo also noted that even if the public votes on the Scenario Two map, if in two consecutive general elections a district has under 250 voters or above 750 voters the districts will have to be consolidated or split again.

Regardless, Unite Princeton co-chair and Borough Municipal Democratic Party Chair Peter Wolanin ’94 said he was pleased with the Scenario Two map that Zelinsky had drawn up.

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“Speaking for myself, overall, this map is much more in line with my desire in how to bring the districts together,” Wolanin noted. “I am concerned that some of the districts might exceed the 750 mark, but otherwise I would say this map is very well drawn.”

The Board will reconvene for the final public meeting on Dec. 19 at 5:30 p.m. to vote on the final election district map, which must decided by Dec. 23, according to state law.

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