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County leaders ponder political changes

Decatur County commissioners may soon consider changes to where people vote and could possibly add a seventh member to their board in the near future.

Ray Chambers, chairman of the Board of Elections and Voter Registration, visited commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting to discuss the idea of reducing the county’s 14 physical voting places down to seven.

Chambers said similar ideas have been proposed as early as 1999. He said reasons commissioners may want to consider consolidating the voting precincts include providing better accessibility for disabled persons, reducing the cost the county government pays to maintain and staff the polling places and an overall effort to provide better, larger facilities to vote in, Chambers said.

Although the Board of Elections plans to hold a series of public meetings on the idea before making a recommendation, Chambers and County Attorney Brown Moseley unveiled maps and details about the changes being discussed.

The current voting precincts, each of which have a polling place where citizens go to vote during elections, are: Attapulgus, Belcher, Bell, Brinson, Climax, Coliseum, Faceville, Fairgrounds, Fowlstown, Kendrick, Parker, Pine Hill, Recovery and West Bainbridge. The Coliseum, Fairgrounds and West Bainbridge precincts are used during both Bainbridge municipal elections and countywide elections.

The seven precincts which the Board of Elections has initially proposed keeping are Attapulgus, Brinson, Climax, Coliseum, Fairgrounds, Recovery and West Bainbridge. The board may also recommend changes to where the polling places are located.

Near the meeting’s end, County Commissioner Butch Mosely proposed commissioners consider adding a seventh, at-large member to their board, an idea which has been discussed previously. Mosely said commissioners had discussed among themselves changing the board’s policy to allow its chairman, currently Palmer Rich, to vote. Mosely said he would rather seek an alternative but made clear he did not oppose Rich personally.