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Roanoke City votes to reduce the number of voter precincts

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ROANOKE (WSLS) - The November election has come and gone. The next time people in Roanoke head to the polls they may notice a few changes. On Monday, the Roanoke City Council voted to reduce the number of voter precincts from 32 to 21.

Elections officials said they will no longer use locations including Fallon Park Elementary, Virginia Heights Elementary as well as Patrick Henry High School. During a public hearing, election officials reviewed the proposed changes along with the estimated number of voters in the current precincts. The new plan includes 7 new locations and 14 existing precincts.

Two members of the public signed up to speak on the matter. One man expressed concerns that reducing the number of precincts could possibly limited accessibility. Brenda Hale, the President of the Roanoke Chapter of the NAACP spoke in support of the plan and emphasized the importance of educating the public about the changes to avoid confusion.

In the end, the city council voted 6 - 0 in favor of lowering the number of precincts. Election officials said the overall goal is to increase efficiency and make the voting process easier for residents.

"Hopefully having fewer precincts yet more man-power in those precincts will be able to get people through the polls even faster," said Mel Williams, Secretary of Roanoke City Electoral Board.

The precinct changes will officially go into effect December 31, 2015. Williams said the first election voters will go to the new precincts will be the Presidential primary elections in March 2016.

City leaders said it's important for people to be aware of the changes in precincts and to make sure residents have up-to-date address information for their voter registration.