In a continuing effort to cut costs, the Cook County Clerk announced the consolidation of numerous voting precincts in Oak Park and River Forest in advance of the February, 2010 primary elections. Oak Park will now have 45 precincts instead of 58, and River Forest 10, down from 15.

Between 2002 and 2008, Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office trimmed the number of precincts by 212, from 2,502 to 2,290. With the additional 353 cuts announced Thursday, that number will now be 1,937 precincts.

“By merging precincts with others in the same polling location or combining precincts where there are too few voters, we will be able to save three-quarters of a million dollars every year with little to no impact on voters,” said Orr in a press release Thursday.

“None of the precinct changes will result in a precinct being split between two municipalities,” he said. “And no district boundaries have changed as result of this precinct consolidation.”

Orr said the ability to reduce the number of precincts is due primarily to the evolution of early voting the past few years, saying, “The trend toward pre-Election Day voting

means precincts can have larger numbers of voters because many of them will not appear in the precinct on Election Day.”

In last November’s historic presidential election, which saw 28,886 people vote in Oak Park and another 6,096 people in River Forest, 8,238 people — 7,311 Oak Park residents and 1,077 River Forest residents — voted during the 18 day early voting period at Oak Park village hall.

Officials do not expect anywhere near those numbers for the Feb. 2, 2010 Gubernatorial Primary Election.

All Oak Park and River Forest households will receive a mailer prior to the election notifying voters of their polling place, location and precinct number.

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