BOARD OF REGISTRATIONS AND ELECTIONS, UPSON COUNTY: JULY 21ST, 2015 MEETING

In attendance:

There were fourteen (14) individuals in attendance at the Upson County Board of Elections meeting on July 21st to discuss proposed precinct closures.

Upson County Board of Elections members:

Robert E. Haney (Chairman)
Janice Bennett (Asst. Chairman)
Jack Grubb (Secretary)
Larry Derico (Member)
Kay King (Member)

Precinct Cuts

The board announced their plan to combine Upson County’s voting precincts–reducing the number of precincts in Upson from nine (9) to four (4). The initial plan was to reduce precincts from nine (9) to three (3), but the board had since decided that a fourth precinct location, Salem, was needed to ensure that the residents of that particular area didn’t need to drive an excessively long distance to vote.

The board discussed the prevalence of other forms of voting–specifically the ease of early voting–as well as staffing expenses, as reasons for the proposed cuts.

Staffing voting precincts is often the most expensive line item in a county’s election budget. It was estimated that, in Upson County’s case, “[t]he reduction of voting precincts could save the county anywhere from sixteen thousand dollars ($16,000) to twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) during presidential election years, and during the smaller elections (odd numbered years) roughly three thousand eight hundred to four thousand seven hundred dollars ($3,800-$4700) would be saved per election.” [1]

PRECINCT COMBINATIONS

The proposed precinct cuts, which were approved by the board, will be effectuated in time for the city election on November 3rd.

Public Comment

Ms. Hollister:

  • Stated that she first started voting at the Lincoln Park precinct and so is passionate about that location in particular
  • Noted that the population of Lincoln Park is about one thousand two hundred (1,200) people (as of the 2000 census), including about five hundred (500) people who vote in the big elections
  • Noted that Lincoln Park contains mostly elderly people who are passionate about voting but do not drive. Thus, these individuals could not easily travel to the new precinct (Town), which is approximately two and one-half (2.5) miles away from Lincoln Park
  • Suggested that the board could have just one voting machine at Lincoln Park and have it run by volunteers. Offered to recruit poll staffers herself.

It seemed as if Ms. Hollister represented the concerns of about six (6) to eight (8) individuals in the audience.

Chairman Haney, in response

  • Noted that none of the decisions made thus far have been taken lightly and that the board has labored over how to approach the cuts
  • Statistics (2012 Election):
    • Lincoln Park had six hundred eighty-seven (687) voters–of those, about 36% voted
    • Lincoln Park cast about two hundred forty (240) votes early, versus two hundred thirty (230) on Election Day
    • Thus, greater than 50% of voters voted early
  • Noted that the board of commissioners supports the precinct reduction plan

Immediately after the public hearing concluded, the board of elections reconvened to vote on the precinct reduction.

Board of Elections Meeting

Chairman Haney reassured everyone in attendance that the board would use every avenue and outlet available to educate those who would be affected by the precinct cuts.

He noted that if you are over sixty-five (65) [note: in Georgia, at any age, without any showing of cause, you can request an absentee ballot to vote], you can make a request that a ballot be sent to your house. Chairman Haney reassured those in attendance that the board, through every available media outlet, would be getting the word out on how to vote.

The board voted on the precinct closures.

Member King, the only black board of elections member, opposed. The motion carried (4 to 1 vote).

Proposed Upson County Voting Precincts

Precinct Consolidations
[1] Sharpe, Matt. “ELECTION BOARD HOSTING PUBLIC MEETING FOR DISCUSSION OF VOTING DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION.” The Upson Beacon.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2015.

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