By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
Elections officials in Franklin County want to reduce the number of voting precincts in their county.
The Franklin County Board of Elections has voted to consolidate the county’s 13 voting precincts down to four based on the county commission districts.
At a work session Tuesday night, Franklin County Elections Superintendent Tess Eubanks presented county commissioners with the plan.
Eubanks said the Board of Elections voted in March to consolidate precincts for a number of reasons, primarily cost savings.
“As a result of the election cycle, the costs of running an election have risen considerably,” said Eubanks. “On March 5, 2013, the Board of Elections and Registrations voted to consolidate our precincts. According to Georgia Code 21-2-262, it is their duty to review and make changes to precincts as needed.”
Eubanks said the 45-day voting cycle is costing Franklin County $8,890 in labor per election.
Under the four-district plan, the labor costs to Franklin County per election would be $2,740.
Other reasons for the precinct consolidation, according to Eubanks, include quicker election results for the public, more efficient use of voting equipment, more quality control, and a steady increase in the number of early voters.
Eubanks pointed to a number of surrounding counties that have either consolidated down to one voting center or drastically reduced the number of their precincts.
That includes Stephens County, which is switching to a single voting precinct at the county’s Senior Center beginning with this November’s planned SPLOST VI vote.
Eubanks said her board wants to do what’s best for the voters of Franklin County.
“The voters come first and we want to do what is best for the voters, but we also want to be fiscally responsible with the budget that we are given,” said Eubanks. “And from the evidence that we are finding in other counties, this seems to be the best way to save money while still making the voters number one.”
Eubanks said the Franklin County Board of Elections is currently holding a 30-day comment period where voters are invited to call or stop by the Elections and Registrations Office to voice their opinions or ask questions.
They can also view a map of the new voting districts for Franklin County.
At the end of the 30-day comment period, Eubanks said there will be a public hearing at the Franklin County Elections and Registrations Office.
A date for the public hearing has not yet been set.