County undecided on new Hogansville voting precinct

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, May 5, 2021

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The Troup County Board of Commissioners again took no action Tuesday on a request to fund an additional voter precinct in Hogansville.

The board had tabled the topic at its last board meeting on April 20 so that it could gather more information, as no work session had been held before that meeting. On Tuesday, the commissioners questioned whether creating a second voting precinct in Hogansville would set a precedent that could cause issues later on.

Hogansville’s current voting precinct is at the Hogansville Public Library, and the second precinct would be created at St. Paul AME Church. If approved, Hogansville’s voting precincts would essentially be split by East Main Street, with the citizens to the south going to St. Paul and the citizens living north going to the library to vote.

The second precinct has already been approved by the Troup County Board of Elections, but the commission must approve the additional cost of $4,000 for legal advertisements and to mail out new voter cards. The City of Hogansville briefly discussed the new precinct at its meeting Monday, with City Manager Jonathan Lynn noting that the county was expected to discuss it Tuesday. Hogansville did not take any action to officially approve the precinct, saying it would discuss it at its next meeting on May 17.

“How does the election board decide who needs an extra precinct and who doesn’t?” asked Commissioner Lewis Davis.

Board of Elections Supervisor Andrew Harper said Senate bill 202 requires that something must be done if more than 2,000 people vote at a precinct and lines are more than an hour long.

Harper said the county has not had issues on election day where people have waited in line that long. Early voting lines can get that long, but not for election day, Harper said.

Harper said there are about 4,000 people who are registered to vote in Hogansville, but that includes both voters in the city limits and voters in the unincorporated county. Harper estimated it would cost $2000 to $2500 per election day to add the additional precinct.

There are 14 total precincts in Troup County, and Harper said Hogansville is the third or fourth largest precinct as a result of Mountville’s precinct closing a few years ago.

Davis said it came down to fairness and he wanted to make sure a new precinct in Hogansville wouldn’t set a precedent for other large precincts to be split.

“If we do this, are we then going to be obligated to do the other four? Give them another precinct?” Davis asked of other large voting precincts.

Commissioner Patrick Crews said it was suggested that an additional precinct is needed in Hogansville due to “potential growth.”

“I have concern that we are talking about potential growth. We aren’t there yet,” Crews said.

Crews also noted that Hogansville had early voting in November and January and that he heard lines there were very short.

He said that several people told him they drove to Hogansville to vote because lines were much shorter than at the Troup County Government Center, the standard location for early voting in Troup County.

“I’m still concerned as to why Hogansville hasn’t already approved it,” said Commissioner Ellis Cadenhead.

At the end of the lengthy discussion, Commissioner Morris Jones made a motion that the commission vote to wait two weeks to see what Hogansville is going to do before they vote on it. That passed unanimously.

Harper said after the meeting that if the city approves the precinct and the county doesn’t, then some voters might vote at one St. Paul for municipal elections and at the Hogansville Public Library for countywide elections.

“They would have to go two different places to vote on different things,” he said.

Hogansville City Manager Jonathan Lynn and Mayor Bill Stankiewicz said they’re not sure how the precinct would move forward without the county’s support.

“I don’t know how we logistically move forward without the county handling the procedural side to the voters,” Lynn said.