Voting precinct plan proceeds after amendment fails to pass

Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 10:14 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 9:47 AM
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Residents of St. John Towers and Peabody Apartments will have to explore other options to cast a vote in the 2014 elections.

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Residents of St. John's Towers patiently wait for the start of the Richmond County Board of Elections meeting Monday.   TRAVIS HIGHFIELD/STAFF
TRAVIS HIGHFIELD/STAFF
Residents of St. John's Towers patiently wait for the start of the Richmond County Board of Elections meeting Monday.

On Monday, the Richmond County Board of Elections failed to pass a substitute amendment that would omit the two polling locations from the board’s precinct plan, which was approved at its Nov. 18 meeting.

The plan calls for consolidating several smaller polling locations with larger sites, and could save the city about $15,000 on each location that closes, Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey said.

With Monday’s decision, residents of St. John Towers will now have to vote at May Park, Bailey said. Peabody Apartment residents will report to Crawford Avenue Baptist Church.

At least a dozen St. John Towers residents attended Monday’s meeting to voice their concerns. Connie Shiver, who is wheelchair bound, asked the board to consider the disabled voters before proceeding with the plan.

“Many of us would have to pay for transportation,” she said. “That would take money away from our already low income. A few residents have said that they would simply not vote.”

Shiver added that many St. John residents were military veterans who fought to protect the right to vote.

Board member L. C. Myles proposed the substitute amendment after hearing Shiver’s remarks, and joined Terence Dicks as the only members to vote in favor of the motion.

Board member Sherry Barnes suggested to the board that the affected voters had ample opportunity to voice their concerns before Monday’s meeting, including an off-site public hearing at the Augusta Library headquarters on Telfair Street.

“We gave everyone the opportunity before we voted to give us their input,” she said, as audience members shook their heads in disapproval. “This was not done, so we moved forward with the information we had.”

Vice chairman David Barbee followed Barnes by asking the board to consider the amount of work that it has put into the plan.

“This was a thoughtful process,” he said. “This is not knee-jerk.”

After the 3-2 vote, Bailey said the board can now move forward with preparations for the 2014 election cycle.

“At this point we will change what we need to change in our computer systems and notify the voters of the change,” she said.

Part of the plan, Bailey said, is to educate voters on alternatives to on-site voting, including mail-in ballots and early voting periods.

St. John Tower resident Mary Wolfe said she hopes that the board will reconsider its plan.

“When they get to be this age, they’re going to feel the crunch that we’re in,” she said. “All I can do is pray and ask God to show them what a mistake that they’re making.”

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Truth Matters
6617
Points
Truth Matters 12/10/13 - 09:07 am
0
0
I certainly see the need to

I certainly see the need to cut costs. I wonder if thought was given to relocating other polling sites to these senior residences so that the least stress is placed on the most physically vulnerable. Of course, that would necessitate adequate space for voting machines which may not be available in a senior residential building.

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 12/10/13 - 03:10 pm
0
0
Sanity Surfaces

I salute the Board of Elections for politely listening to the complainants; and then for voting against the substitute motion to grant special waivers for St. John Towers residents and Peabody Apartment residents.

It is costly to set up and staff a voting precinct that serves so few voters. A well-run voting precinct can accommodate 3,000 registered voters easily. To pay for poll workers to staff these tiny precinct with just a couple of hundred registered voters (many who do not even cast a vote) cannot be justified.

Just think of all the assisted living facilities and nursing homes across Richmond County who do not get the special treatment that St. John Towers and Peabody Apartment have gotten all these years. It's time to do away with these tiny voting precincts.

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 12/10/13 - 03:24 pm
0
0
Call Your Bluff

From the story:

Connie Shiver, who is wheelchair bound, asked the board to consider the disabled voters before proceeding with the plan. “Many of us would have to pay for transportation,” she said. “That would take money away from our already low income.”

Excuse me, but I have seen St. John Towers residents enjoying Augusta's night-time amenities such as the Harry Jacobs Chamber Concerts and Augusta Symphony concerts. There is a shiny, handicapped-accessible bus that brings them with the St. Johns Towers logo on it.

I'm sure that bus would take residents to the precinct to vote.

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 12/10/13 - 03:27 pm
0
0
Absentee

Georgia law makes it easy and convenient to vote absentee. You can request a ballot by mail or you can request a ballot by phone. All it takes is two ounces postage to mail it back.

Use it.

Darby
25052
Points
Darby 12/11/13 - 11:59 pm
1
0
When did Dave Barbee

get appointed to the Board of Elections?

I knew his son Chip was there. Did father replace son?

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