Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Justice Department Approves Bibb Precincts

Talk about inside baseball, here's a post that maybe three people will care about, but it is important, and I would like to know whether this is happening in other places in Georgia.

I went to the Bibb Board of Elections today to get some information and learned that we no longer have 50 precincts in Bibb County, but instead, now have 41. This is the result of combining and eliminating some precincts. Nine polling places have been eliminated, and it appears to me that, with the exception of one, these are all precincts with high democratic turnout and high African-American turnout. The reason given was that this reflects low voter turnout in some precincts, but I don't know about that. A couple of the precincts (East Macon 7,8) typically have a fairly high turnout.

Is this kind of stuff happening other places?


tribalecho said...

Gee. I don't know. Does STUFF happen?

Oh yes, God, it does.

Could it possibly be like that movie I saw on TBS?

The one where Donald Sutherland smashes people's heads and kills old ladies 'cause it's just ok

That movie where Burt Lancaster hangs himself and his kid thinks he oughta make as much money as his Dad, even though he's an idiot.

The one where crazy people were in charge,
until they weren't. 'Cause the Americans said so.

Who will save the planet if not us? The most privilaged people to ever exist?

Who will save the planet from us. The most privalaged people to have ever existed?

Button Gwinnett said...

As I understand it Amy, there have been several counties that have been consolidating precincts in the last 10 or so years. Most of it has been in smaller counties that were still using their old militia districts as precincts. Those were useful in the days when transportation could be a problem for people who lived in rural areas trying to get to central voting centers. Of course, we're far removed from those days.

You have to take into consideration how much money it costs to run a precinct. There is a certain amount of poll workers that must be there at all times. And a certain amount of equipment and supplies have to be bought for them as well. Plus, you've got the maintenance and upkeep of the grounds and the building used as the polling place. It all adds up and can really strain an election budget.

To see if this is what's being done in Bibb Co., request registration figures for those closed precincts. Usually the figures will also contain demographic breakdowns. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that those precincts contain a smaller number of voters. If that doesn't give you an idea of why those precincts are being closed, then maybe it would be time to ask more questions from the election super's office and also from poll workers who work in those areas. Hopefully at least half of them will be asked to help in other areas. Particularly if they are minorities.

One thing is for sure. Regardless of the practical reasons for precinct consolidation, it makes the local folks mad.

Button Gwinnett said...

Just to add to that, also inquire about the condition of the buildings of the precincts that were closed. Sometimes the county commission balks at putting money into older buildings that have roof, electrical, etc. problems. Also they have to meet HAVA standards. This could be the county commission's way dealing with those problems.

The Justice Dept. is supposed to inquire with local minority officials on issues like this before approving changes. So I'm hopeful that this wasn't done with bad intentions. Still, it might be a good idea to talk with local minority leaders and keep an eye on any negative effects that this has on voting patterns.

Amy Morton said...

I think that the low registration would hold for Macon 1,2,3 and probably for some of the others, but closing East Macon 7,8 really surprises me. Those precincts normally have heavy voting.

Button Gwinnett said...

Maybe some questions should be asked then. Was there a public hearing before the plan to close precincts went forward? I don't know if there is a requirement in the law to hold one. But it would be good policy to do so, and involve the chair of both major parties also.