Franklin Co. Commissioner Questions Voting Precinct Consolidation

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

A Franklin County Commissioner said recently he wants answers regarding the timing by the Franklin County Board of Elections  to consolidate precincts.

At a work session recently, the Franklin County Commission received an update on the Election Board’s latest plan to pare the current 13 precincts down to seven.

However, Franklin County Commissioner Clint Harper implied during the meeting that the decision to consolidate may have been of a political nature.

According to Harper, the precincts the Election Board is wanting to cut are those that voted against the last SPLOST in Franklin County.

The question raised eyebrows from election board members and Franklin County Elections Superintendent Tess Eubanks, who said the decision had to do with cost, not politics.

Eubanks said consolidating precincts has become a trend in Georgia because of the savings it can provide.

According to Eubanks, precinct consolidation would save FranklinCounty about $4,000 per election so in years where there’s more than one election, the savings could be as much as $20,000.

Harper then asked Eubanks to research which precincts voted against the SPLOST and report back to him with her findings.

Franklin County Elections Board Chair Chip Vandiver took umbrage with Harper’s suggestion and was concerned Harper might think the Elections Board would act in any sort of political retaliation.

Harper then pointed out the Elections board is appointed and any precinct consolidation he believes, should be brought to the voters of FranklinCounty.

Under the Franklin County Election Board’s current plan, all five polling places would remain in the five municipalities and two other precincts would be chosen for the rural parts of the county.

One of the new precincts would include the current precincts of Middle River, Gunnells, Dooley and Ashland.  The second rural precinct would consolidate the current precincts of Strange, Flintsville and Red Hill.  Also, the Wellborn polling place would be combined with the Gumlog polling place but at a new location.