The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics announced yesterday that it had approved a plan to renumber the city's 137 precincts in an effort to make the precinct designations correspond to the ward in which the precincts are located.

Under the system, each of the precincts, which are numbered 1 through 137, will be given a three-digit number. The first digit will indicate the ward in which the precinct is located. Officials said all precincts from 10 through 99 simply would have their ward number added as the first digit.

For example, precinct 17 in Ward 2 will become 217. In the cases of single-digit precincts numbers 1 through 6, all in Ward 2, would be re-numbered 201 and so on. Precincts 7 though 9, all in Ward 3, will be designated 307, 308 and 309.

Officials said precincts that now have three numbers will have only their first digit changed. For example, precinct 126 in Ward 8 will become precinct 826, officials said.

"We hope it's going to be less confusing," said Mel Rappleyea Sr., a consultant hired by the board to modernize election office procedures. "The (precinct) numbers now have no correlation to the wards."

The board also announced that it had redrawn the boundaries of eight precincts that were affected earlier this year when the City Council approved a redistricting plan that moved most of Georgetown from Ward 3 into Ward 2 and made other, smaller changes to reflect population shifts.

Officials said they expect to have the normal renumbering of the precincts completed by May 14, as well as a corrected voter list supplied by the Geico Insurance Co. which volunteered earlier this year to help bring order to the city's confused voter registration records.

The city's elections records and precincts are required to be in place by May 14 so the board can inform candidates for mayor and the City Council how many signatures of registered voters are required on petitions to get the candidates' names on the ballot for the Sept. 14 primary elections.