New voting places given OK

Published 1:12 pm Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Local elections officials are going forward with a plan to consolidate some of Decatur County’s voting precincts and move a few polling places to more accessible locations, Chief of Elections Doris White said Tuesday.

In a letter to County Attorney Brown Moseley dated Aug. 5, a representative of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division indicated that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder does not object to the consolidation plan submitted by Decatur County. The plan, developed by the Board of Elections and Voter Registration last winter and spring, will consolidate 14 voting precincts into just nine. Five existing precincts would be eliminated and combined with others and polling places in at least two other remaining precincts will be moved.

The largest precinct, comprised of voters who cast ballots at Memorial Coliseum in Bainbridge, is unaffected by the changes.

For the Nov. 2 Bainbridge municipal election, West Bainbridge voters will no longer go to the West Bainbridge Fire Station; instead, they will go to the cafeteria of the old West Bainbridge Middle School on Dothan Road.

The other precinct changes won’t happen until county-wide and state elections are held in 2010, which will give elections officials time to notify affected voters and work on making some of the remaining nine polling places more easily accessible to disabled persons, White said.

The other polling place that is moving is in the Kendrick precinct—which now comprises a small portion of former West Bainbridge voters—where voters will now go to the Kendrick Volunteer Fire Department. Elections officials are considering possibly moving the polling place for the Recovery precinct, which will now include voters from the former Faceville precinct, White said.

Voters in the former Parker precinct will be split across the precincts of Climax, a new precinct called Mount Pleasant and the Fairgrounds. Voters in the former Pine Hill precinct will be split between West Bainbridge and Brinson.

Four contractors have bid on planned upgrades of polling place buildings to comply with the American Disabilities Act, and Decatur County has also applied for federal grant money to help pay for the work, White said.

The changes come after elections officials held a series of public hearings on the consolidation throughout Decatur County. Along with better accessibility, other benefits of the changes could include a reduction of the cost the county government pays to maintain and staff the polling places, according to Elections Board Chairman Ray Chambers.