By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
The Franklin County Board of Elections is considering whether its idea of consolidating 13 voting precincts down to four is the plan they’re going to stick with – that after hearing from some voters at a public hearing.
Dozens of concerned citizens packed the JusticeCenter in Carnesville Tuesday night for the public hearing which lasted about an hour.
After first hearing a presentation from Elections Superintendent Tess Eubanks, voters had a chance to voice their opinions and concerns to the elections board.
Most of the comments, such as the one from Canon Mayor Ray Morgan, were concerned with how the elderly and those in public housing would get to the polls on election day.
Morgan said the plan to send Canon voters to Carnesville to cast a ballot made no sense.
“What in the world would make you think voters in Canon are going to drive 12 miles to Carnesville to vote,” Morgan asked the board. “I don’t think anyone on this (elections) board has any concern for Canon. And I’d just love to say that we think our voting precinct needs to stay in Canon where it has been for years.”
Royston Mayor David Jordan agreed, as did Royston City Councilmen Keith Turman and Larry Bowen.
Under the current election board plan, Royston voters would vote at Franklin Springs City Hall some three miles away from downtown Royston, because the elections board determined there was not enough parking at what will be the new RoystonCity Hall.
Turman disputed that.
“We have adequate space for parking,” countered councilman Turman. “We have 75 parking spaces right now and that can go up to 250. We will have a 4,500 square foot facility once our new library and city hall is constructed. We will have plenty of meeting space there.”
Only one citizen who spoke said they were for the idea of consolidating precincts. Gabe Martin lives in the Bold Springs community.
Under the plan voters there would have to drive 18 miles to Carnesville to vote, but Martin said the current 13-precinct system doesn’t work.
“I will drive to wherever have to. But I want to commend you for trying to do something here that I think seriously needs to be done,” he said. “Anything you need to come up with is better than what we have now. Whatever you do, don’t just let this die, do something.”
No decision on whether to keep the four precinct plan was made Tuesday night, but elections board chair Chip Vandiver told those who attended the hearing the board would take their ideas and comments into consideration.
The Elections Board hopes to have a new precinct plan in place by July 2014.