BOARD OF REGISTRATION AND ELECTIONS, MACON-BIBB COUNTY: JUNE 10TH, 2015 PRECINCT CLOSURES ROUND-UP

The Macon-Bibb Board of Registration and Elections voted June 10th on a measure that, in its original state, would have closed approximately 1/3 of Macon-Bibb’s voting precincts.

Within the original plan were provisions to close eleven (11) of thirty-seven (37)[1] voting precincts in Macon-Bibb.[2] As explanation for this sweeping shut down, the board cited budget cuts and claimed that voters who had been assigned to one of the closing precincts would be reassigned to sites within three miles of their original precinct locations.

According to a Macon Telegraph analysis, the precincts slated to close were about 76% black. The precincts that would remain open were 58% white.[3]

Relevant Facts

1. The governments of Macon and Bibb County were consolidated into Macon-Bibb County, effective January 2014.

2. For the first time since that governmental consolidation, voters will turn out for a presidential election, as well as elections for many offices in the new consolidated government.

[The primary is nine months away, so the board has only eight months to submit the plan to the Department of Justice (though approval is no longer needed, the board indicated that they would be submitting it for confirmation, regardless), print and mail new precinct cards to all affected voters, organize, outfit and staff the new precinct locations, and otherwise ensure that all affected voters are aware of their new precinct locations.]

3. Board Members: (1) Rinda Wilson (R), (2) Cassandra Powell (D), (3) Herbert Spangler (R), (4) Ronnie Miley (D), (5) Michael Kaplan (I)

The Passed, Negotiated Plan

  • Four (4) of thirty-seven (37) precincts (“PCT”) will be closed. The vote was unanimous among the five (5) board of elections members.

The Changes

  • Combine Central Church & Pentecostal Temple PCT with Promise Center PCT
  • Move Glenwood Hills Church PCT to Beulahland Bible Church PCT
  • Move Macon Mall PCT to Middle Georgia State College
  • Move N. Macon Presbyterian Church PCT to Mabel White Baptist Church PCT.[4]

The board provided the following explanation to justify the changes: “Most of the polling places we had issues with,” Member Miley said. “For instance, the one at the Macon Mall was a combination of things, constantly opening late, not our staff, but because of having access to the Macon Mall.”[5]

[1] Note: prior to Wednesday’s decision, the board had already closed three precincts (reducing the number of precincts in Macon from forty (40) to thirty-seven (37)). Those three were closed because they were located within schools that themselves had closed.

“Election Board Reduces Number of Precincts.” WMAZ. TENGA, 10 June 2015. Web. 24 June 2015. <http://www.13wmaz.com/story/news/local/macon/2015/06/10/macon-bibb-now-has-thirty-three-precincts/71029474/>

[2] Stucka, Mike. “Opponents Rallying against Plan to Cut Bibb Voting Stations.” Macon.com. The Telegraph, 23 Jan. 2015. Web. 24 June 2015 <http://www.macon.com/2015/01/23/3547331_opponents-rallying-against-plan.html?rh=1>

[3] Id.

[4] “Election Board Reduces Number of Precincts.” WMAZ. TENGA, 10 June 2015. Web. 24 June 2015. <http://www.13wmaz.com/story/news/local/macon/2015/06/10/macon-bibb-now-has-thirty-three-precincts/71029474/>
[5] Id.

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