Elections board moves ahead with polling place closures

Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 3:49 PM
Last updated 8:59 PM
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Despite opposition that continued to build Monday, the Richmond County Board of Elections is moving forward with a plan to end voting at two senior citizen apartment complexes and other locations.

Elections Executive Di­rec­­tor Lynn Bailey said she received a petition containing 161 signatures Monday from residents at St. John Tower, one of the complexes, along with correspondence from Augusta Commission candidates Sammie Sias and Dennis Williams, pastor K.B. Martin, state Reps. Wayne Howard and Gloria Frazier and Augusta NAACP President Charles Smith. All sought to stop or postpone the polling place changes.

“The proposal to move senior citizens from St. Johns and Peabody Towers is not in the best interest of voting rights, convenience and respect to their most constitutional fundamental rights, and that is the power and right to vote,” said a statement issued by Smith on behalf of the local branch and state NAACP conference.

Smith called the board’s 3-1 vote Monday “a slap in the face” and said he would consult with conference leaders on further action.

Republican appointees Chip Barbee and Sherry Barnes and nonpartisan member Sanford Loyd voted for the changes. Democrat L.C. Myles was opposed, while Democrat Terence Dicks abstained, giving no reason.

The board revealed plans in August to end voting at eight of its 50 polling locations: St. John, Peabody Apart­ments, Fire Station No. 8 on Highland Avenue, Cokes­bury United Methodist Church, the Johnson Center in Cherry Tree Crossing, Morgan Road Middle School, the Windsor Spring Road VFW and New Life Worship Cen­ter.

Smith said the changes, expected to affect about 13 percent of Richmond County’s 98,000 registered voters, will disproportionately affect as many as 9,000 minority voters.

Though some voters voiced opposition at earlier hearings, board members expressed surprise at the amount they continued to receive Monday. Myles made a motion to table the changes until later but it failed 3-2, with Barbee, Barnes and Loyd opposed.

Jack Gillis, one of a handful of St. John residents at Monday’s meeting, was disgusted at the outcome after so many voiced opposition.

“I feel rotten about this,” Gillis said. “It tells me that democracy is not working here.”

The changes require St. John seniors, whose average age is 84, to travel outside the complex to vote and many residents are disabled or not mobile, he said.

“We’re supposed to be a compassionate nation,” Gillis said.

Local Democratic Party Chairman Lowell Green­baum said he planned to ask Augusta legislators to see what they could do.

The NAACP is monitoring voting changes in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling invalidating the part of the Voting Rights Act that required all changes that could affect minority voting strength to be cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice. The board’s decision to eliminate polling places was its first since the civil rights era to not be required to go for Justice Department review.

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Little Lamb
63323
Points
Little Lamb 11/18/13 - 05:48 pm
4
1
Negativity

When is the last time the local chapter of the NAACP has been on the front end of an issue? All they do is oppose, oppose, oppose.

As Bob Dylan said:

. . . your gravity fails and negativity won't pull you through.

ColCo
1600
Points
ColCo 11/18/13 - 09:25 pm
5
0
Yawn...

The NAACP objecting is news? Really?

happychimer
33665
Points
happychimer 11/18/13 - 09:41 pm
1
7
They should be ashamed to

They should be ashamed to close Peabody and St. Johns Towers polling places. Those people are old and/or disabled, but of course there are those who would love to see them not be able to vote. anything to stop a liberal from voting. right? That is sick! disgusting!

Pops
46791
Points
Pops 11/18/13 - 10:02 pm
2
0
A lot of jostling

to see who is gonna be the new "leader".....

Little Lamb
63323
Points
Little Lamb 11/18/13 - 10:12 pm
5
0
Old And Worn Out

If the residents of the two apartment complexes can get out of bed and go downstairs to the precinct, then they can get out of bed and go down to the mailbox in their apartment building and request an absentee ballot.

I am proud of the Board of Elections for closing small precincts in an attempt to save the taxpayers money. Fred (What, me worry?) Russell needs to learn from Lynn Bailey.

Little Lamb
63323
Points
Little Lamb 11/18/13 - 10:43 pm
3
0
No Accountability

From the story:

Augusta NAACP President Charles Smith said the changes . . . will disproportionately affect as many as 9,000 minority voters.

Sure, it's easy for Smith to say this; but since he didn't present any evidence, any proof, any logic, any rationale to back it up, his words are meaningless blather. You need to show proof if you are to have any credibility. Smith has none.

Young Fred
29095
Points
Young Fred 11/19/13 - 01:33 am
2
0
"Smith called the board’s 3-1

"Smith called the board’s 3-1 vote Monday “a slap in the face” "

"She said what?"

ColCo
1600
Points
ColCo 11/19/13 - 06:52 am
2
0
There is a little thing called...

Absentee ballots! Most of the folks at these polling places vote absentee and have for years. Both parties have teams of volunteers working the residents for their votes every election cycle. At least half the vote takes place in advance or by absentee, those residents will be afforded a chance to vote, conveniently by members of both parties.

Riverman1
167376
Points
Riverman1 11/19/13 - 07:57 am
2
0
Mentally Competent?

I wonder how many of those elderly folks voting are still mentally competent if their average age is 85? Or are they simply told to vote Democrat? An unpopular question, but I bet it's true. Maybe it's time to do away with all poll places and make all voting by mail or internet somehow with verified ID.

Red Headed Step Child
7233
Points
Red Headed Step Child 11/19/13 - 02:07 pm
1
0
In the Sherriff's election,

I may be mistaken but in the Sheriff's election, wasn't there talk of folks getting picked up and taken to the polls? If it's such an issue, maybe those good folks will offer their services again..

It's been said above - absentee ballots. Problem solved. No one's trying to keep anyone from voting, sheesh....

Red Headed Step Child
7233
Points
Red Headed Step Child 11/19/13 - 01:35 pm
1
0
@Riverman

ID? Careful..that'd be going against their rights to request that an ID be provided...

burninater
13468
Points
burninater 11/19/13 - 04:47 pm
0
0
"... are they simply told to

"... are they simply told to vote Democrat?"
-------
At least the real motive for these closures is apparent to you, RM.

If folks can't win on merit, they can at least tilt the scale by restricting the vote.

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