Thousands of voters could casttheir votes at new locations in March's presidential primary.
The Columbia County Board of Elections has submitted proposals to the U.S. Department of Justice for six new voting precincts and one site change .
Five are being split from existing precincts because of population in each precinct and to absorb future growth, said Debbie Marshall, the county's director of elections.
"When a district gets over the 2,000 mark, the state says that when we hit that mark, the precincts need to be split," Marshall said.
The precincts suggested to split are: Lewis Methodist Church, Grovetown City Hall, Burks Mountain Road Fire Department, Evans Elementary School, Wesley United Methodist Church and Greenbrier High School.
The voting sites have become very crowded since the precincts reached their capacity, Marshall said.
"There were long waiting lines in the last election," Marshall said. "We only have a certain amount of machines -- 246 voting machines. The precinct was already up to capacity as far as voters, up to 2,000, and caused a lot of people not to vote. They didn't vote because of the line. In the 2000 election, people were in line 21/2 to 3 hours up at Greenbrier."
The Burks Mountain Road precinct will not split because of population but because of the driving distance for some of its voters. Part of the voters will be moved to vote at Damascus Baptist Church.
"We had several complaints from people having to drive too far," Marshall said.
Also, the voting site at Martinez Community Center will be moved to Augusta Christian Schools for the safety of its voters. The change is being made as result of severe traffic concerns and hazards brought to Marshall's attention after the 2000 election.
If the new precincts, which were drawn and approved by Marshall, County Planner Tim Young and Linda Meagers, director of the Reapportionment Office, are approved by the Department of Justice, the change would go into effect Jan. 1. The next planned countywide election after that date is the presidential primary in March.
More precincts need to be split, but that won't happen until 2008 although they will even though they will need to split by 2006, Marshall said.
"We are doing it in phases, not all at one time," she said. "We have several more precincts that need to be split, but we are having a hard time finding buildings in the precincts."
Proposed voting precinct changes to take effect Jan. 1:
Precinct/Site Being Split New Precinct/Site
015 -- Lewis United Methodist Church 16 -- Woodlawn Baptist Church
030 -- Grovetown City Hall 33 -- Grovetown Middle School
050 -- Burks Mountain Road Fire Station 051 -- Damascus Baptist Church
060 -- Evans Elementary School 062 -- Parkway Baptist Church
132 -- Wesley United Methodist Church 134 -- Columbia County Engineering Department
061 -- Greenbrier High School 063 -- Mount Olive Baptist Church
The voting site for precinct 100 is moving from Martinez Community Center to Augusta Christian Schools.
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