SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – If you live in Pooler, you may remember the Governor’s election in November of 2018. That’s when many stood in long lines to vote. Since then, the Chatham County Board of Elections has been considering solutions which include new polling locations to alleviate crowding.
Next Wednesday, the board will hold a special meeting to consider a request to open one new polling location before municipal elections this year on November 5.
“We have to be proactive in looking at polls that have 2,000 or 3,000 or even 4,000 assigned registered voters,” said Antwan Lang, a board member who pushed for the special meeting.
Lang says the board recognizes the growth in Pooler and has a plan to actually open up two new polling locations. Legal issues regarding who oversees the changes have caused delays. According to the Pooler City Attorney, a check regarding the current population of Chatha County shows it has grown beyond 250,000 people. We were told that because of that, the Chatham County Commission had to become involved and hear plans from the Board of Elections regarding possible precinct changes. The Commission heard those plans earlier this month.
The Board of Elections has one location lined up for a new poll, but not the second one. Because municipal elections are relatively close (November 5), Lang believes it would be wise to open the one new poll for which they have secured a location. “So that we don’t run into the kind of situation that we had in November of 2018 of long lines of people being turned away because they’re discouraged. I think the first step to solving this issue is opening one more poll.”
Lang says one new location in November might help educate those assigned voters in time for the presidential primaries in March. He says more voters may turn out for the primaries and those assigned to the new polling location would have at least been there once.
“I would rather go ahead and implement a change like this during an election like this during a time than to do it in March because by that time we have to have voters using new machines as well,” he said.
He recognizes it is simply one step in a situation that must deal with not only rapid growth in Pooler but throughout Chatham County, “This is now what some may consider a band-aid this is more like putting stitches in. You have to in some way pull together pieces that will allow citizens to be able to not have to wait in four-hour lines,” said Lang.
The Pooler City Attorney says city leaders want to be assured that any changes in polling locations are done in accordance to the aw and that the physical location is approved in terms of code and accessibility.