Voters protest poll plan

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 31, 2008

DEMOPOLIS &8212; A proposal to consolidate polling places for city elections met with staunch resistance from voters in districts 1 and 2 during a public meeting Monday at the Theo Ratliff Activity Center.

The proposal was brought before the city council a month ago by poll workers Ann Hunter and Alice Boggs, who said that a central polling location would be easier for the polling staff.

Mayor Cecil P. Williamson said that reasons other than the convenience of pollsters were cited during the proposal.

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Hunter and Boggs made the request in order &8220;to get the community to be a community together, to vote in one place,&8221; Williamson said. &8220;I didn&8217;t think they were as organized as they should have been when they made the proposal.&8221;

The idea of a central polling place was unpopular with those in attendance Monday.

The Rev. Robert Shepherd questioned the timing and scope of the proposal.

Like some of his constituents, Moore is waiting for an answer.

Several in attendance wondered who would benefit from such a move.

District 2 Councilman Charles Jones joined Moore in opposition of the proposal, and urged those who wanted their voices heard to appear at the city council meeting Thursday.

Several attendees worried that consolidation would drive voters away from municipal elections.

A decision to consolidate polling places could hurt black voters the most, Willard Williams said.

Regardless, a consolidation of polling places this close to the municipal elections would be a rush job &8212; it&8217;s already April, and the elections are held in August. Whatever the city council decides, the U.S. Department of Justice must approve the change of a polling place.

But the constituents in districts 1 and 2 who attended Monday&8217;s meeting are nearly unanimous: they want no part of a consolidated polling place.