The Richmond County Board of Elections is holding a public hearing Tuesday to collect input about a new precinct plan that will mean a change of polling location for about 13,000 voters.
The proposed plan was developed to accommodate voters as more choose to vote ahead of Election Day, according to executive director Lynn Bailey.
The changes include adding an advance voting site at Diamond Lakes Regional Park for a total of four locations countywide and consolidating the 50 Election Day sites down to 44. A public hearing will be held at the Main Library at 823 Telfair St. at 6 p.m. before the board votes on the plan, which will go into effect for the 2014 elections.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June struck down the portion of the Voting Rights Act that required districts to receive approval from the Department of Justice before making election changes. However, Bailey said her department is still asking for public input and inviting community feedback so the process stays transparent.
“We want to make sure as many people as we can think of have seen the plan and are aware of the plan and have knowledge of the plan,” she said. “We’ve done our best to make the process open and inclusive.”
Bailey said the Board of Elections has reviewed the plan with the local Democratic and Republican party groups, a local black ministers association, the Richmond County Board of Education, the South Augusta Neighborhood Alliance and almost 50 other groups.
In the 2012 presidential election, 39 percent of voters in Richmond County voted early compared to 19 percent in 2004. Bailey said the proposed plan will make it easier for all voters to make it to the polls while accommodating this growing trend.
“It makes it more efficient and more convenient for voters,” she said. “It’s so very obvious these days that people are choosing to vote ahead of time, and with this plan we’re making it possible for voters to do that very thing.”