Polling place will be moved

Published 12:49 pm Wednesday, April 22, 2020

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Charlotte County Voter Registrar Nan Lambert confirmed Monday, April 20, that the electoral board plans to meet Thursday, April 23, to finalize the paperwork for the emergency relocation of the Bacon/Saxe polling place.

According to Lambert, the new polling place will now be located at Shiloh Baptist Church located at 125 Shiloh Church Road, Drakes Branch.

Lambert said she and the electoral board requested the relocation and that no action is needed from the Board of Supervisors (BOS).

“After submission of this paperwork, the Department of Elections will update the voting system to reflect this change,” Lambert said. “Letters will be generated and mailed to all voters in the Bacon/Saxe district no later than May 15, and notices of this change will be placed in the local papers and on the county’s website.”

Currently, the Bacon/ Saxe polling place is located at Southhall Community Building in Saxe, where according to Lambert, there are 1,086 registered voters with average turnout between 300 and 400 voters.

Lambert says the community building in Saxe has been a precinct since 1991 when it replaced Priddy’s Store Precinct. Until 2016, Bacon and Saxe were two separate precincts. Voters in Bacon voted at Bacon District Elementary School.

During the July 2019 meeting of the Charlotte County Electoral Board, members were made aware of issues at the Southhall Community Building.

According to Lambert, parking space is one issue that has been brought up about the community building, as well as entrance ramps and wood heat that is needed to heat the building.

During its August meeting, the BOS was informed that a new location was needed and that the electoral board was working to find a location.

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 the March 9 meeting of the BOS, 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 a second ramp was not.

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.

Also, at its March meeting, the BOS voted 6 to 1 to approve the relocation of the Bacon/ Saxe District polling place from its current location at Southhall Community Building to New Hope Methodist Church.

Just over a week after the BOS vote, New Hope Methodist Church rescinded the offer.

“While New Hope United Methodist Church has sent us a letter rescinding their offer to use their fellowship hall as a polling place, we are looking into our other options,” Lambert said in the March 25 edition of The Charlotte Gazette. “The fact remains Southhall Community Building is not a viable place. Fortunately, there are other options open to the Electoral Board and Registrar’s office.”

The letter said a member of the church opposed the building being used as a polling place.