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The U.S. Justice Department has given its OK to some precinct consolidations here for the upcoming presidential primaries.
In the past, the political parties put on the primaries, said Lancaster County election official Cassie Stump. But the state Legislature changed that this year, and now the state Election Commission is responsible for the primaries.
The local Election Commission is having to combine several precincts because not enough funding came from the state to run the primaries locally, and there are also issues with programming the voting machines for two primaries in one week.
The Republican primary will be held Jan. 19. The Democratic primary will be held a week later on Jan. 26. Both are Saturdays.
Stump said voter turnout is usually low for presidential primaries.
Lancaster County Election Commission Chairman Rick Crimminger said the state only provided half the funding needed to conduct the primaries, which led to the precinct consolidations.
The Justice Department's letter to the county said the attorney general finds no objection to the precinct consolidations, but that doesn't mean the changes can't be reexamined or challenged.
The Rev. Wayne Murray, president of the Lancaster branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, spoke to Justice Department officials about his concerns about the precinct changes.
Murray is worried that combining the large Lancaster East, Lancaster West and Chesterfield Avenue precincts into one at the Eastside Academy cafeteria could create long lines and possibly discourage some from voting.
Murray also believes combining the Carmel and Douglas precincts at Douglas Presbyterian Church will create a longer travel time for some older voters.
Murray said Friday that he has sent additional information about the precinct changes to the Justice Department.
"We've also contacted the state NAACP to get their recommendation on the next move we should make, or whether we should we take legal recourse," Murray said.
Contact Jenny Hartley
at 283-1151 or