Elections

Bibb group's say on voting sites delivered Tuesday

Elections officials will hear from an advisory group Tuesday about a plan to cut the number of polling sites across Macon-Bibb County by more than a third.

In January, Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections members created the group after complaints about the plan, which would reduce the number of polling places countywide from 40 to 26.

“Our advisory committee has done some outreach in the community and will present the final report tomorrow,” Charlene Maynard, the office’s elections secretary, said Monday.

Quinton Tard, who chairs the committee, would not comment on the specifics of the report before the meeting, but he said, “We don’t feel like there’s been enough public input.”

The advisory committee requested — and was given — more time a few months ago, but now time has run out, said Rinda Wilson, the board chairwoman.

“We’ve given them more time than we can afford,” she said.

Certain aspects of the election process must be completed within a limited time frame, she said, and “We’ve already expended it.”

The plan to consolidate polling locations followed a directive that government agencies cut costs for the fiscal 2016 budget. The current elections plan could save about $40,000.

“We’re actually kind of proud of the job we did,” Wilson said. “(Macon-Bibb commissioners) asked us to save money and we did.”

The plan wouldn’t affect voting districts, only the number of polling stations within those districts, officials have said. And some of the changes are necessary for other reasons beyond cost savings.

For example, the Bibb County school board will soon close Morgan, Barden and Rice elementary schools, which all served as polling stations. In addition, Riley Elementary will be undergoing major renovations next year and won’t be able to serve as a voting site during the 2016 presidential election, which typically draws the largest turnout.

“People got alarmed when they heard ‘consolidation.’ They heard, ‘People aren’t going to be able to vote,’ which isn’t the case at all,” Wilson said.The meeting to hear the advisory committee’s recommendations is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. at the board offices located at 2445 Pio Nono Ave. Board members plan to vote on the recommendations Wednesday.

To contact writer David Schick, call 744-4382.

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