Stephens County has permission from the U.S. Justice Department to switch to a single voting center on Election Day for county elections in the future.
Stephens County Registrar Theresa Kelley said that the Justice Department has pre-cleared the county’s request to consolidate eight voting precincts into one voting location.
“That means that we are going to do away with all of the precincts in the county except for one,” said Kelley. “That one precinct for everybody to vote at on Election Day is going to be at the Senior Center.”
The Stephens County Senior Center is located on Rose Lane.
Kelley explained that the change will only affect voting on Election Day itself for county elections.
Early voting will still take place at the Stephens County Government Building as it has previously and people will still be able to request absentee ballots as they have in the past.
Kelley said that switching to a single vote center has many benefits for the county.
“It is going to save the taxpayers money,” said Kelley.
Also, Kelley said that the county has had difficulty coming up with poll workers for eight precincts and adds that Election Day can be a long day for a poll worker if they have to work the whole day.
“When you go in at 6 a.m. and you have to stay there and you do not get to leave about 8 or 9 p.m., that is a long day,” said Kelley.
According to Kelley, a single vote center will allow her to split up when poll workers are on duty so they do not have to work all day.
Kelley said the county will also save money on rent and utility costs that it will no longer have to pay for at the eight precincts it has used.
Kelley first proposed the vote center last year and in August, Stephens County Commissioners voted unanimously to support the effort.
Last year, Kelley said that she did not feel that access to the polls would be an issue, noting that the Senior Center currently does help with transporting seniors to their precincts to vote if they are unable to get there any other way. In addition, she said last year that she felt that the county could work with the school system to lessen any congestion that could occur with the polls right next to Stephens County Middle School.
According to Kelley, she will send out new precinct cards reflecting the change later this year.
She said that the vote center would be in effect for an expected countywide SPLOST VI election in November.