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First precinct meet fails to draw crowd

Next session set for July 11

POSTED: June 27, 2013 12:25 a.m.

Just a few poll workers attended the first of five public meetings on a proposed overhaul of Forsyth County’s voting precincts.

Still, Supervisor of Voter Registrations and Elections Barbara Luth said she’s encouraged that more people may come to the remaining meetings.

“I had hoped for more,” she said of Tuesday night’s session. “But being poll workers that have come and now have seen what it is, they’ll now spread that information to their neighbors and say there’ll be other locations to go to.”

The next meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. July 11 at the Sharon Springs Park Community Building. There’s also a meeting July 27 and two in August.

Poll worker Eugene Chambers said he came to Tuesday’s gathering, held at the Hampton Park Library, to see the changes for himself.

“It looks like it’s going to be OK and it’s really going to cut down on a lot of the employees that we have,” Chambers said. “Actually, it’ll be better for the county.”

According to Luth, the proposal to shuffle the precincts likely will be the final version, pending public input. The changes are being made to reduce the number of precincts from 25 to about 16, combining as many as three precincts into one location.

The cost-saving measure will also eliminate using schools as precincts to help alleviate traffic congestion around carpool lanes.

Betsy Brown, elections community outreach coordinator, gave a presentation Tuesday, going over each precinct.

While travel times will increase, particularly in north Forsyth, Brown said there’s “no voter that should have to travel more than 10 miles to go to their election day polling place.”

The consolidation of precincts, she said, mirrors a statewide trend.

“A major part of the reason that these proposals are being made is because we’ve got over 50 percent of the voters who vote [voting] early,” she said. “With that many people coming out and voting early … there’s not as much of a need at the precincts on election day.”

Luth hopes for a larger turnout at the upcoming meetings so people can learn more about the process.

A recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning a portion of the Voting Rights Act may have changed the course of the local precinct proposal.

The proposal previously would have needed approval from the U.S. Department of Justice. With the court’s ruling, however, that may no longer be necessary.

“The secretary of state will let us know,” Luth said. “If we have to [submit], we have to. If we don’t, that’s good too.”



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