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Polling place will be moved

In a 6 to 1 vote the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved the relocation of the Bacon/Saxe District polling place during its meeting Monday, March 9.

Phenix/Aspen Supervisor Donna Fore cast the only no vote.

Currently, the voting precinct is located at the Southhall Community Building, but with Monday’s vote will now be located at New Hope Methodist Church (located at 6101 Scuffletown Road, Randolph).

This was the fourth time the issue was brought before the BOS.

During its December meeting, supervisors were informed that a new location was needed due to building, parking and heating issues.

During its January meeting of the BOS, a public hearing was held to hear citizens’ comments on the proposed relocation.

No one addressed the BOS, and due to the lack of public participation at the hearing, supervisors decided to table the decision to try and receive more public input.

During its February meeting, supervisors tabled the vote citing a need to determine if ramps into the building were ADA compliant.

During Monday’s meeting, Will Garnett, who represents the Bacon/Saxe district, said the BOS had learned that one of the ramps into the current polling place was ADA compliant but that a second ramp was not.

The county’s building inspector, John Hess, verified the ADA compliance.

During the public comment period of the meeting, Drakes Branch Resident Terry Tharpe addressed supervisors saying he was a disabled Air Force veteran and requested that the polling place not be relocated.

“Saxe voting pole has adequate disabled access and is in compliance and within ADA guidelines,” Tharpe said. “The heating and air conditioning issue presented to me by the president of the electoral board is petty at best and is easily fixable with space heaters.”

Tharpe continued to say that ethically a voting location should not be in a church.

Tharpe does not vote in the Bacon/Saxe District as he lives in the Town of Drakes Branch and votes in that district.

Supervisor Fore said she agreed with Tharpe’s statement about church and government.

Garnett, who made the motion Monday to accept the electoral board’s recommendation to relocate the polling place, said in the Jan. 15 edition of The Charlotte Gazette that he had spoken with around 40 individuals who vote in the district, and many were not in favor of the move.

“Some have expressed that they may no longer vote if the polling place is moved farther than the current location,” Garnett said. “This is a tough decision to make since it affects citizens of this district differently depending on location.”

Also, in the Jan. 15 edition, Garnett further commented that since the current polling place is in the center of the district, he would like to see it stay at the Southall Community Building.

“This location could use some improvements, but most people only visit this location once a year,” he said. “Like a member of the board of elections said, a voter can request a ballot mailed to them. This would work well with voters that think the Saxe polling place is inadequate for their needs.”

In the Feb. 26 edition of The Charlotte Gazette, Garnett commented, saying, “We need to base our decision on facts, and before the last meeting, some issues were brought up. We have addressed those concerns and received the information from the appropriate county officials.”

Voter Registrar Nan Lambert said the decision to move the polling place was a good one.

“It was the right thing to do, and it should have been done in December once we found a viable location,” Lambert said.

According to Lambert, now that the relocation has been approved, letters will be sent out to voters in the district informing them of the new voting location.

“If we have a primary in June, it will be held at the new location,” Lambert said.