Supervisors, election commissioners look to consolidate voting precincts

Published 7:00 am Friday, September 8, 2017

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors and election commissioners met Tuesday to discuss consolidation of the county’s 32 polling precincts.
After several meetings with some of the supervisors, the election commissioners proposed a way to reduce the polling precincts from 32 to 12. Most of the consolidations are necessary to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, which must be met by October of 2018, Commissioner Reggie Hanberry said.
He also said it would help reduce the cost of elections by combining precincts with lower numbers of registered voters.
According to the proposal, the 12 polling places would be located at:
-Amackertown Volunteer Fire Department
-Carriere Storm Shelter
-Christian Life Assembly of God
-Henleyfield Community Center
-Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library
-McNeill Volunteer Fire Department Station 1
-Northeast Volunteer Fire Department Station 1
-Picayune National Guard Armory
-Pine Grove Volunteer Fire Department
-Poplarville Storm Shelter
-Southeast Volunteer Fire Station 3
-Steephollow Volunteer Fire Department
Hanberry said he’s presented the consolidation plan nine times in the past nine years he’s served as a commissioner.
“Let’s vote on it today and be done with it,” he said.
But Board members said they weren’t satisfied with the plan and didn’t take a vote.
District II Supervisor Malcolm Perry said the proposal didn’t reflect what he discussed with commissioners for his district.
The state recommends that each precinct have a minimum of 500 voters, but some in Pearl River County have as few as 100, Hanberry said.
In some places, he said that drives the cost of a vote up to $64.
Perry said he didn’t understand why the Millcreek precinct would be consolidated when the county recently spent money to make it ADA compliant.
“Sometimes we have to do things that are better for the whole rather than a smaller group,” Hanberry said.
Manna Ministries has also said it will no longer host a polling location, requiring the county to seek another location for the Southside District, Pearl River County Circuit Clerk Nance Stokes said.
At the Picayune Fire Station on Loftin Street, which has served as a polling location for years, parking is limited, Stokes said.
The election commissioners requested an additional $45,000 in funding for the next fiscal year, Board Vice President Hudson Holliday said.
He said that if the county were to consolidate the polling precincts by half, he would hope the budget would be cut in half too.
Hanberry said that wouldn’t be the case. While the budget would be reduced some, it won’t be that drastic.
The Board took no action and decided to discuss the matter further before making a decision.

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About Julia Arenstam

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