HAMPTON — The Hampton City Council voted against a request by the Henry County Board of Elections to shift the city’s polling places.
At a recent Hampton City Council meeting, Tina Lunsford, the director of elections for Henry County, suggested moving Hampton’s polling place from the Fortson Library to Cavalry Baptist Church for those on the north side of town and Berea Christian Church for those on the south side of town.
The council voted 3-3, with Mayor Steve Hutchison casting the tiebreaker vote against the proposal. Errol Mitchell, Ann Tarpley and Willie Turner voted to keep the polling places separate, while Henry Byrd, Stephanie Bodie and Elton Brown voted to align the city’s polling places with the county’s.
Those polling places are used by the county for their elections for the North Hampton and South Hampton precincts, respectively.
The rationale behind the proposal was to prevent confusion between polling places, as both the county and the cities will have elections this year. Henry County will hold an election for voters to decide if they want the SPLOST V sales tax, while the cities will vote on members of their respective city councils.
The move appeared to confuse members of the Hampton City Council, with one councilman suggesting that shifting from one polling location to two locations would encourage “discrimination.”
“When you start to segregate areas to go to different locations, it creates a problem, it’s considered segregation,” said Mitchell.
When asked by Brown for the rationale behind keeping the polling locations separate, Tarpley said it was about familiarity.
“That’s where we go to vote for the city,” Tarpley said of the Fortson Library. “If there’s an issue for a county like a special election, we may have to go to a different location, but here, the location has been the Fortson Library, and that’s what people know. That’s where they’ll go for municipal government.”
With the vote cast by the Hampton City Council, Hampton voters will cast their ballots at two separate locations on election day. For the city elections, all voters will cast their vote at the Fortson Library, while voters will cast their ballot for the county referendum at either the Cavalry Baptist Church or the Berea Christian Church, depending on where they live.
For information on your polling location, visit www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.