By Tia Lynn Ivey
Just one week before the consolidated primary election, the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registrations (BOER) narrowly voted in an emergency meeting to shutdown two voting precincts due to a critical shortage of poll workers because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Morgan County voters assigned to the Clacks Chapel and Bethany Springfield precincts will be assigned a new polling station and notified by mail.
According to Jennifer Doran, Morgan County Election Supervisor, the county is down to just 23 poll workers, losing about a third due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
“Due to a shortage of poll workers because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration is making emergency temporary polling place location changes for Clacks Chapel and Bethany-Springfield voters,” said Doran. “We originally had 35 to 38 poll workers but are now at 23. The Board did not vote unanimously; it was a 3-2 vote.”
Members Dena Lanier and Scott Sellers voted to close the precincts, while members Helen Butler and Avery Jackson voted against it. Chairman Michael Ghioto broke the tie with a vote in favor of closing the precincts.
According to Doran, the change, which brings Morgan County poll stations down to five on Election Day, as opposed to the usual seven, should not alter voter turnout.
“We do not anticipate a lower turnout or confusion for the voters,” said Doran. “We are spreading the word through news and social media, and our office is also sending out a notice today to all affected voters. As the temporarily closed polling places have a small number of voters, there should be a problem with lines due to the closures.”
To ensure all voters are directed to the proper voting precincts, the county will station workers at the closed sites, in case voters still show up.
“To cut down on any confusion, though, we will have someone at each temporarily closed polling place handing out directions so voters can know where they are going,” said Doran. “The My Voter Page (mvp.sos.ga.gov) has been updated for Clacks Chapel and Bethany Springfield voters to reflect the polling place change.”
Doran also noted that this year’s abnormally high rate of absentee ballot votes and early voting should counteract longer voting lines.
“As of this morning, we have had 917 in-person early voters,’ Doran Tuesday morning. “We have received almost 2,200 absentee by mail ballots, with 1700 still outstanding, meaning they were issued but have not been returned yet.”
Anyone planning to mail in absentee ballots must have them returned to the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration office by 7 p.m. on Tuesday June 9. The office is located at 434 Hancock Street in Madison.
Doran reminded all absentee voters to make sure they sign the “Oath of Elector” slot on the outer envelopes before returning the ballots.
Doran also encouraged voters to take advantage of early voting at the BOER office at 434 Hancock Street in Madison, which ends this Friday, June 5 at 5 p.m. There is no voting on Monday, June 8, and the only place to vote on Election Day is a voter’s assigned polling place. Voters cannot cast a vote the BOER office on Election Day, Tuesday, June 9. The polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.