ELYRIA — A number of voters who will cast ballots in May will be doing so for different Council representatives as city officials have redrawn ward boundaries to reflect population shifts in the city.
The new map was approved by City Council in December 2011. But it wasn’t until this upcoming primary when voters will first see the boundary changes take effect.
Law Director Scott Serazin said Chapter 105 of the city charter dictates a new map be drawn every 10 years after the population is certified by the U.S. Census. The aim is to keep the population of each ward as equal as possible.
“I think every ward saw a bit of a shift, but mostly in Ward 3 and Ward 7,” he said.
The city charter calls for all seven wards to be made up of roughly the same percentage of the overall population. Elyria’s population, according to the 2010 census, was 54,533. Therefore, the target number of residents per ward was roughly 7,790.
The 3rd Ward is by far the largest in the city, even though the new map reduces the ward’s size by about 1,400 residents.
Republican Councilman Garry Gibbs said regardless of the changes, he will continue to canvass the area he represents because he knows the boundary lines have nothing to do with his work in the city.
“Ten years ago when we redrew the map, I had over 10,000 citizens in the ward,” he said.
According to the city charter, after the federal census has been completed and within three months after a population proclamation is issued by the Ohio Secretary of State, Council is required to redivide the city. Streets, alleys, avenues, public grounds, canals, watercourses, municipal boundary lines or railroads all can be used to form boundaries. However, Council cannot add or take away wards.
Every ward will be affected.
The 1st Ward will gain some of the 3rd Ward, but lose some residents on Cleveland Street.
Residents on Antioch and Villanova drives will move from the 7th to the 4th Ward. Councilman Mark Craig, I-4th Ward, will lose West River Road north of Interstate 90 and part of the St. Jude neighborhood.
Lorain County Board of Elections Director Paul Adams said notices already have gone out to affected voters.
“Those people who are affected by the changes should have already received over the last couple of weeks a letter in a yellow envelope to let them know what their new precinct is and voting location,” he said.
The Board of Elections sent out roughly 65,000 letters across the county — approximately 14,000 letters to Elyria.
Beside Elyria, Lorain, North Ridgeville and Sheffield Lake all redrew their ward maps.
“The population shifts in North Ridgeville and Lorain were much more significant, so the changes in the wards in those cities were more drastic,” Adams said.
Voters who misplaced their notices can call the Board of Elections, where employees have access to the updated maps and can tell voters their precinct or voting location.
There is also a link on the county agency’s website to find the information online under “Voter Look Up.”