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Precinct plan goes to public

Debate continues over downsizing

POSTED: November 4, 2009 4:00 a.m.

Consolidating Dawson County’s eight polling locations will be the topic of discussion at a public hearing Friday morning.

  

The county’s board of elections and registration agreed last month to let voters weigh in on the proposed change.

  

The plan calls for merging the county’s eight precincts into three, with one site in town, a second on the east side of Ga. 400 and the third outside the Big Canoe community.

  

Board members Spencer Maddox and Tom Foley have said Fire Station 6 on Hubbard Road, which serves as a polling place for the Big Canoe area, is not an adequate facility.

  

While both agree the county needs to cut back on its precincts, they said the lack of heating and parking at the fire station make it an unacceptable location. 

  

The Big Canoe Property Owners Association has threatened legal action if the precinct outside the gated community is closed.

  

The consolidation issue emerged after last year’s general election, when more than 68 percent of voters cast early ballots, slashing poll turnout on Election Day.

  

Consolidating precincts is seen as a cost-savings move. The county paid poll workers nearly $16,000 for their work on Election Day last November.

  

In addition to savings, the board is considering the convenience for voters, safety of poll workers and suitability of polling places.

  

The public hearing will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Nov. 6 in the G.L. Pete Gilleland Chambers at the Dawsonville Municipal Complex, 415 Highway 53 East.

  

Time allowed for public comment will be limited. 

  

The board likely will revisit the topic during its December meeting, when it could vote on the matter.

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