Bibb elections board OK’s Sunday voting for upcoming election in contentious meeting

Macon voters may be able to cast their ballots on a Sunday for the first time.

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections decision to approve Sunday voting came during a contentious meeting in which a county commissioner called for a board member to resign. Whether polls will be open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28, is still dependent on an estimated $3,000-$5,000 in funding from the county.

During Thursday’s meeting, County Commissioner Elaine Lucas called for elections board member Rinda Wilson to resign. Wilson said she felt “railroaded” by Sunday voting being added to the agenda after the meeting started — and just weeks before early voting starts.

With several weeks in the early voting period and other options, there is no need to add a Sunday at this time, Wilson said.

“There’s also the argument... about suppressing voting when we have absentee (ballots) and anyone who has any inclination to vote can vote from their couch on paper,” Wilson said.

Lucas respond by saying Wilson was suppressing voting by being opposed to one more day on the voting calendar.

“The statements you just made are so backwards you have no business serving anywhere,” Lucas said.

Wilson, a Republican, was the lone vote against the Sunday measure. Board members Cassandra Powell and Henry Ficklin, both Democrats, voted for it. Republican representative Herbert Spangler was not present at the meeting.

Board member Mike Kaplan, an at-large member, said he supported Sunday voting for the Nov. 6 election because the county no longer has a second early voting location.

“I really don’t like the way this was done,” he said about the last-minute agenda addition. “We have a job do to and that’s the job to make sure everyone gets to vote.”

Lucas said Sunday voting is one of the focuses of Pews to the Polls, a grassroots program which brings religious leaders together for the purpose of getting their congregations to vote.

“We can encourage all of our religious organizations to put their faith into action by mobilizing their parishioners ... on Sundays to leave there and put their faith in action by casting their ballot,” she said.

Wilson, however, also cited concerns about taxpayers footing the bill for Sunday voting when the county is already cash-strapped. Earlier this year Wilson was one of the votes that helped approve a county commission special election.

That prompted Powell to question why money was an issue this time.

“You voted to pay $40,000 for a special election and now you’re being railroaded into Sunday voting that’s going to cost ($3,000-$5,000)?,” Powell asked.

That decision came after several meetings, however, Wilson responded.

“We’ve got to hear all sides to these things and I think it’s wrong to call for something this big to vote on with this little notice,” she said.

A letter from the ACLU sent statewide to elections board on Thursday requested early voting hours to be extended and for polls to be open on two Saturdays and two Sundays.