2010
04.05

The Walker County Board of Elections & Registration has announced plans to reduce the number of voting precincts in the county from 18 to 11, merging seven smaller districts into larger ones. This decision, supposedly made to save the county money, has already been approved by the state and will be implemented as-of the next election unless a court appeal is successful.

Arguments for the change include saving the amount of money paid to poll workers and clerks while reducing the number of voting machines needed for each election, a total cost reduction of $1,000 per election. Money is money, but that small sum is hardly worth forcing some citizens to drive an extra twenty or thirty minutes out of the way to vote, and will result in much longer lines in seven of the county’s remaining eleven districts as four precincts will now have more than 5,000 registered voters. Elections officials commented that many voters have chosen to participate in “early voting” that doesn’t require a polling place to be open – but even if half the county’s registered voters choose to vote by mail, reducing the number of places where everyone else can vote and increasing wait times will only lead to decreased voter participation.

This decision was made by the Walker County Board of Elections & Registration, a five-member panel that has no public accountability. Two of its members are appointed by the Walker County Republican Party, two by the Walker County Democratic Party, and one by the theoretically nonpartisan Walker County Probate Judge (currently Foye L. Johnson). Current board members are Elizabeth Edwards, Jim Cole, David Chambers, Jim Buckner, and Keith Edwards.

This is an issue that impacts every Walker County vote, not just on the county and state level but national elections as well. However, the elections board sought no public input about their decision and made no announcement or notice until it had already been sent to the state. Even Barbara Berry, county Elections Supervisor, complained on our Facebook that her opinion on the matter was deemed “unacceptable” to the board.

The decision to consolidate precincts isn’t horrible, but it deserves to be discussed publicly among the people it will impact. A petition objecting to the change is being circulated by county planning director Kelia Kimbell, for information about it please contact her. Anyone wishing to comment on the precinct change is encouraged to attend a meeting scheduled for 8 AM this Friday (April 9th) at the elections office on the first floor of the Walker County Courthouse. The elections office can also be contacted by phone at 706 638 4349.

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14 comments so far

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  1. lolz. What a convenient time for a meeting, right when everyone has to be at work! When can we just turn into a Democratyranny and get it over with?

  2. The board actually submitted the plan to the state during the mid to late summer 2009. I found out by accident as part of my national security clearance got pushed back” because my old voting precinct Wallaceville could not be verified because it was “no more” on the state’s database. Since this effected my work (i.e. getting paid), my calls to elected officials was “this is news to me”. I am all for saving money, and since I am a Republican I got word relayed from Mrs. Edwards (one of the two GOP board members) “all meetings are open to the public”. Which is true. But due to the lack of any published minutes or news releases this is still causing issues even today.

  3. Having meetings “open to the public” that aren’t announced, recorded, or discussed is useless. Obviously this has been in the works for a while and at this point it’s going to take a LOT of public outrage and petition signatures to change it back. There aren’t enough people in the county who care one way or the other now to do anything, and by the time they see what kind of impact it’s going to make there’s nothing that can be done. Hope they get the new voter registration cards in the mail in plenty of time to let people know about this change…

    – The LaFayette Underground

  4. I am looking at the new precinct map it I will be in a district that could cause me to drive almost an hour so that I can vote. With the old district map I can walk to my precinct. I guess the elections board does not want to consider that fact that many voters not only have jobs, but also have children. It is also a shame that they are not considering that many voters are financially strapped and getting to and from their polls would be a hardship.

  5. I am guessing that Elizabeth Edwards is the same Elizabeth Edwards that is married to Kieth Edwards. That shows a lot of diversity among the elections board.

  6. Just to clarify, the Chairman of the Board’s Name is Elizabeth Edwards, she answers to Ebeth Edwards and no she is not married to Keith Edwards who is an attorney who also serves on the Board of Elections. Ms. Edwards and he husband live in E. Armuchee!!

  7. E’beth Edwards is married to Rodney “Peanut” Edwards who runs a sod farm in Villanow and owns rental properties, they owned the Villanow Country Store for about fifteen years. They have about forty kids together. She and Keith Edwards may be related (it’s not exactly an unusual name) but she’s definitely not married to him. They’ve been part of the push to build the Taj-Mahal community center in Villanow, which will entertain many guests as primary voting site for the east side of the county once it finally opens. It’s within sight of their house there.

    – The LaFayette Underground.

  8. It doesn’t really bother me, but I am upset that they didn’t ask the people it would be affecting.

  9. Thanks for the clarification.

  10. I want to say thank you to LU for publishing this article. I want to be clear that my objection to this is not related to my job in any way and that this was not a decision that was made by our Commissioner. She had nothing to do with this decision. It was a decision by the board. I have done some homework on this issue, mostly in my precinct because of time constraints. I have requested a copy of the study that is required by the board when changing precincts, but what I was given was a lot of scribbled notes and print outs of voting turn out. A study to me means an organized and detailed look at the situation and documentation as to the reason for the change. This certainly was not what I was given. It was very, very unprofessional on the board’s part. I still have not been provided the detailed budget information that I requested several weeks ago, which is against the law. This is public information that we can request under the sunshine law. I hope people will come to the meeting tomorrow. If you are planning to come and wish to speak, send them an email at elections@walkerga.us or they will not let you speak. Thanks again for the help. K.

  11. We presented a petition from West Armuchee with 55% of our precinct signing in objection to the closing of our precinct. Chestnut Flat presented a petitioin with nearly 22% signing in objection to closng their precinct. We were told that the law that say if 20% of the electors ojbect then they can not close it does not apply in this situation because they are not “moving our polling place” they are “closing our precinct”. I ask, “What is the difference?” I have yet to get an answer. The board voted unanimously to ignore our petitions by voting unanimously to close all 7 of the precincts as they had planned. If this decision is determined to be invalid and they hold the May 11th election, then the entire congressional district will be affected by their decision because the election can be challenged.

  12. Sorry for all of the typing errors. I’m in a hurry. K.

  13. Don’t give the typos a second thought, just Skit’em girl………………..

  14. Can anyone tell of the results of the much widely publised Nathan Deal (closet Republican) election held on May 11th?

    Myself, and everybody else I know……….., are curious to know how WE voted after WE were so WELL INFORMED of this election by our City reps.

    Although, there are some aquaintances that really appreciated the LACK OF ALCOHOL TABOO usually associated WITH EVERY ELECTION EVER HELD in this township…………