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8th Voting Precinct Coming in 2012

For the first time in 24 years, Milford will be getting a new voting precinct – it's eighth – in 2012. The change means not only an additional 33 Town Meeting Member seats, but also that all current 231 members will have to stand for re-election at once in next April's town election.

"Pretty much most of the [precinct] lines are moving," said Town Clerk Amy Hennessy Neves. "Everyone's going to have to pull [nomination] papers again."

The reason for the change is tied to last year's federal census. John Barr, the Re-Precincting Coordinator in the Secretary of State's office, said his office routinely reviews precinct boundary lines after each federal census to ensure that each voting area has roughly the same number of residents.

"Districts must be drawn so as to contain roughly equal numbers of residents. This is different from the number of registered voters. Population is determined by the most recent federal census. All local re-precincting and state redistricting relies on the federal census taken in 2010 and at subsequent ten year intervals," states Re-Precincting in Massachusetts, a booklet which was published by the Secretary of State's office in March.

Barr's office said the re-precincting process used to be based on the state census, and Milford's last major change was when it went from five to seven precincts in 1988.

Neves and other town officials are reviewing a preliminary map from the Secretary of State's office that outlines the proposed new precinct boundaries. The map must be finalized and approved locally and by the state by early September. One possible change from the draft would be to move certain proposed precinct boundaries to allow for future residential growth in areas where there is still-unbuilt residentially zoned land, Neves explained.

"The population shifted in all areas" of town. "We're growing, which is why we have to shift everybody," Neves said. The goal is to have 3,500 residents in each precinct, she continued.

Milford currently has 33 elected Town Meeting Members in each of its seven current precincts, for a total of 231 elected representatives. Normally, one-third of each precinct's representatives – 11 members – stands for election each year.


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