OUR VIEW: Hoping new Hogansville precinct works out

Published 10:00 am Saturday, August 29, 2020

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Over the last few weeks, there have been numerous meetings to discuss the addition of a new voting precinct in Hogansville.

A thorough summary of those meetings would take up a lot more space than we have available here. However, for anyone that hasn’t followed it, here’s a quick reminder:

The leadership at St. Paul AME Church in Hogansville has asked for the church to be added as a second voting precinct. Currently, Hogansville’s only voting precinct is at the Hogansville Public Library.

There’s some debate about when this conversation first started, but nothing was officially requested until July, which has made it a true race against the clock if it’s going to happen by November.

After approving the precinct in August, the board of elections asked Election Supervisor Andrew Harper to come up with a timeline detailing all the steps needed to create the precinct. Harper presented that timeline on Wednesday at a board of elections meeting, and due to various statutes, said that the precinct couldn’t be created that quickly.

Following that discussion, the Rev. Frances Hunter from St. Paul AME Church then asked if the church could be a satellite precinct, and the elections board asked Harper to gather information on making that happen.

And finally, on Thursday, Harper asked the Troup County Board of Commissioners to help fund the creation of the satellite precinct, but Harper admitted he needed to do more research before knowing a final cost. In his defense, he’d only had a few hours between the two meetings. The commission, understandably, said that the board of elections would need to come back with a final cost so that they could have an informed discussion.

Caught up? Good. Confused? You aren’t the only one.

It’s clear that somewhere in all of this communication seems to have broken down between all parties involved, as there was plenty of time before late August to have these important conversations.

Setting up an additional precinct would be complicated, and a thorough process, when an election wasn’t less than 70 days away. Throw in the quickly approaching election, and it gets a lot more difficult.

Obviously, the more people who vote on election day the better. If a new precinct can be created in Hogansville — whether it serves in a “satellite” fashion or not — then great. It’d be a shame if that can’t happen by Nov. 3, though the board of elections should also carefully tip-toe the line of what’s legally required to ensure all steps are handled correctly.

This isn’t something you rush and miss a step or two. That would be a complete disaster, and not a mess the county wants to get itself into.

With all that said, it does appear as if Hogansville will have early voting for November’s election. Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz said he asked for early voting, meaning voters in Hogansville will have weeks to vote and won’t have to wait until election day.

That’s a step in the right direction and will give voters more time to find a way to the polls.

Now, we hope the rest of this can be sorted out in the days and weeks ahead.

Harper, the board of elections and the county should do everything in their power to make this new precinct a reality. An understanding of the precinct’s legality, along with proper research and funding, needs to come to fruition quickly. We believe making voting easier for people is always a good thing. In the future, we hope the powers that be can communicate more effectively and act quicker to better serve the voters of Troup County.