Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Voters deciding Bloomfield’s future Nov. 8
What to know when voting on village referendum

by Steve Targo

November 03, 2011

BLOOMFIELD — For the people behind the effort to turn a 12-square-mile region of the town into a village, next Tuesday is their moment.

On Nov. 8, those who vote in a special referendum election will decide if this region northeast of Highway H will become a village.

Whether the town should incorporate to become less dependant on county governmental services and protect its borders from future annexation attempts has been the main question in Bloomfield since at least 2008.

Since then, it's been a slew of petitions, negotiation attempts and court orders — all of it discussed during last month's incorporation meetings and detailed in previous news stories throughout the area.

It all comes down to the Nov. 8 referendum election, which is the final stage of the process. Voters will once and for all decide if this proposed village becomes a real one.

History could be made.

"There's probably nothing (voters who live in the proposed village) are ever going to vote on again in the near future that's going to have this much of a direct impact on them," Town Clerk Martie Wells said Monday.

She said she hopes for about 2,000 people to vote Nov. 8, but remains skeptical because none of the signs are there for a large turnout.

"I expect between 500 and 700," Wells said. "With the absentee ballots, I sent out 20-some odd ballots and I've only gotten five back so far, so I have to unfortunately say I'm not expecting a huge turnout."

She said it doesn't so much matter to the poll workers how many people show up Nov. 8. Although Wells said it makes a 13-plus hour day go by more quickly if there is a large turnout, the "only way to make a good decision is if everyone is there."

But there are some things Bloomfield Township residents need to know when it comes to this election.

"The biggest one is that the whole of the town cannot vote," Wells said.

Only people who live in the proposed village can vote. Wells said her estimates have the total number of eligible voters at between 2,000 and 2,200.

She said those residents who can't vote Nov. 8 reside in Graden Woods, Lake Ivanhoe, Tuscany, Pioneer Estates and those who live west of Highway H and south of Deignan Road.

"They do have to live within the incorporation area," Wells said.

She said when people arrive at the polls, they will be asked for their address. Wells said she worked with town engineers and Bloomfield Zoning Administrator Jill Murphy to compile a list of addresses for those who live in the proposed village area. If your address isn't on the list, you will be told you cannot vote Nov. 8, Wells said.

But it appears she accounted for the margin of error. If someone wants to contest why they're not on the list, there will be a way to double check.

"We're using the town zoning administrator as our registration deputy during the election," Wells said. "She will have access to the GIS (Geographic Information System) in my office."

Using an overlay these officials created on the GIS, Wells said Murphy will be able to call it up during Election Day. This overlay consists of the boundaries of the proposed village.

"We should be able to pinpoint someone's home and see if they fall in this area," Wells said.

Other changes

The residency requirement to participate in the Nov. 8 election is one of two other changes Wells discussed Monday.

She said because of new state laws, voters also will be required to sign in and become informed about next year's photo ID requirement.

According to Wells, voters haven't had to sign the poll book before. But they will have to next Tuesday and during all future elections, under this law.

Although needing a photo ID isn't necessary until January 2012, voters Nov. 8 will be asked if they have one.

"They can still vote if they don't," Wells said.

However, if the answer is "no," poll workers are supposed to provide them with a handout about the new law. Wells said the first election in Bloomfield which will require voters to have photo ID takes place next February.

But whether it's 500 or 2,000 people who weigh in at the polls Nov. 8, it's bound to be an election to remember.

"I'm hoping to see 2,000 voters and I'm hoping everyone who has a vote exercises it — for or against the incorporation," Wells said. "This is something we as a community need to decide."