Boulder County voting precinct changes to reflect new redistricting lines

·4 min read

Jan. 21—Boulder County Commissioners on Thursday gave unanimous approval for proposed changes to alter voting precincts in line with redistricting changes.

Justine Vigil-Tapia, Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's Office special projects coordinator, said, "The precinct changes will put voters into their correct congressional and legislative districts in compliance with 2021 redistricting changes."

Vigil-Tapia said she didn't have an analysis of how many voters would see their representatives change. The new precincts, which are subdivisions of an electoral district, won't impact where residents cast their ballot, though.

Through the process, some precincts will be combined. This is going to drop the number of county voting precincts from 240 to roughly 194 precincts, which Vigil-Tapia said will help streamline the election process for election offices. There is still some analysis to determine what precincts will be merged based on population numbers.

Re-precincting is a step in the re-districting process, which happens every 10 years after census data is collected. Redistricting is drawing the lines and the boundaries for state legislative districts and congressional districts, based on census data.

Colorado voters in 2018 approved Amendments Y and Z, which created an independent commission to draw these congressional and legislative boundaries. This took the process out of the hands of state legislators.

Boulder County's redistricting changes were approved by the commissions and state Supreme Court in December. The changes can be seen on the county's website at bouldercounty.org/elections/information/redistricting. With that part of the process concluded, the county clerk's office was then tasked with reviewing precincts to match them to the maps provided by the independent commission, according to the county's website. Commissioners on Thursday were asked to approve the updated map.

"Essentially, we are fitting in all precincts to fit in the geography, with compliance factors in mind," Molly Fitzpatrick, Boulder County Clerk and Recorder, explained to commissioners during the meeting Thursday.

With the population shifting since the last redistricting lines were drawn, part of the process involved looking at the voter count. Each precinct must have fewer than 2,000 active voters.

"In our previous precincts, they were tied to physical voting locations where you would go and vote," Vigil-Tapia said after the meeting. "That's where the cap of 2,000 came about, because it seemed like that was the number of voters that a location could reasonably handle."

A precinct map was included in the agenda packet and can be seen by visiting the Boulder County Commissioner's website at bit.ly/34Zlpo8. A "crosswalk" section was also included and allows residents to look up their old precinct number and translate it to the new precinct number and what it means. For example, someone in Precinct 648, on the north side of Longmont, will see a new precinct number of 650. The new full precinct number for a resident in that area is 2-17-11-07-650. The first number is the congressional district, the next two numbers are the state senate district, followed by the state house district number. The 07 represents the Boulder County code and the local precinct in Boulder County is represented in the final three digits.

After Jan. 31 — the deadline for completing the process, residents can also look online to see whether their precinct number has changed at Govotecolorado.gov. The new precincts will first be applied to the June primary election.

The Boulder County clerk and recorder will be submitting several technical corrections for state Supreme Court approval. Fitzpatrick outlined some of the corrections that will be submitted, including assuring that some individual parcels won't be split between different districts.

Boulder County Commissioner Matt Jones emphasized that the vote Thursday does not impact Commissioners' District Map, which has until September of next year to be redrawn.

With commissioners' approval, Fitzpatrick said the next part of the process will include updating the statewide voter registration database to reflect the changes and notifying the secretary of state that the reprecincting process has been completed.

"This has been a great team effort," Vigil-Tapia said. "We are not at the finish line yet, but we are set up for success and with your approval ... we will be getting that work completed so voters will have those new contests available to them on their ballot."