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Cleveland Co. merges precincts, drawing controversy

The Cleveland County elections board voted 2-1 Tuesday to merge five Shelby election precincts into two and require different polling places for several thousand voters, a move critics called an effort to suppress the vote.

Republican supporters said efficiency and cost savings were behind the move. Democrats and other critics have asked officials to postpone the decision until after the November election.

The board merged Shelby 6 and Shelby 7 at Holly Oak Park, as well as Shelby 1, 2, and 3 precincts at Shelby City Park.

Officials at the State Board of Elections said merging precincts has become more popular with increased early voting. The decision comes the day the merger was the focus of a New York Times story on voting changes around the country. Jim Morrill

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