Thursday, September 10, 2020

New Voting Locations Reviewed At Oconee County Board Of Elections And Registration Meeting

***Athens Academy Moved to Nations Church***

Fran Leathers, chair of the Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration, told fellow Board members at their meeting last week that she had found a new voting home for Precinct 11, which formerly voted at Athens Academy.

On Nov. 3, the 2,758 registered voters in that precinct who opt to cast a ballot in person on election day will do so at Nations Church, 8780 Macon Highway, just south of the entrance to Athens Ridge student apartment complex.

Though each of the county’s 12 precincts has a number, they also have a name, usually referring to the voting location.

In this case, Leathers said, she’ll call this precinct East Oconee.

The move from Athens Academy is part of the effort to get voting locations out of schools and to larger facilities that can handle the expected high demands of the Nov. 3 election, provide adequate space for privacy and distancing during the pandemic, and have sufficient power for the new voting equipment.

Leathers will answer questions starting at 6:30 p.m. today (Thursday) on the Nov. 3 election voting procedures in a virtual session organized by the Oconee County Democratic Party.

Registration is required and is available here. 

Earlier Vote

At its Aug. 4 meeting, the Elections and Registration Board authorized Leathers to look for alternate sites for Athens Academy voting but to move the voting to Civic Center if she were unsuccessful. Leathers is director of Elections and Registration in addition to Board chair.

Precinct Map With Polling Locations 
Click To Enlarge

At that time, the Board also approved moving voting in Farmington and Bishop precincts to Bishop Baptist Church, 1110 Old Bishop Road. In the past, voting had been at the community centers of the two communities.

In addition, voters in North High Shoals and North Oconee precincts will vote at Grace Fellowship Church, 1120 Malcom Bridge Road, rather that at North High Shoals Town Hall and the North Oconee High School Field House.

The move to Bishop Baptist Church means Bishop voters will be voting in their precinct and Farmington voters will be voting outside their precinct.

The move to Grace Fellowship means that North Oconee voters will remain in their precinct while voters at North High Shoals will be voting outside their precinct.

The Nations Church is within the boundaries of Precinct 11, so those voters will be voting in their own precinct.

Leathers had briefed the Board of Commissioners of the move at its Aug. 25 meeting on the changes. 

Earlier Changes

At its meeting in July, the Board of Elections and Registration agreed, without a formal vote, that Leathers should explore moving forward with actual merger of Farmington and Bishop, North High Shoals and North Oconee, and Athens Academy and Civic Center precincts.

Leathers told the Board that its vote to move polling places for the November election was not a final merger decision.

The Board of Elections and Registration earlier had approved the move of the Colham Ferry voting location from the Colham Ferry Elementary School to Poplar Springs Baptist Church, 2700 Colham Ferry Road.

Poplar Spring Baptist Church actually is in Antioch Precinct, but Leathers had said she could not find a suitable location within the Colham Ferry Precinct itself.

With the move of Precinct 11 to Nations Church, voters in nine of the county’s 12 precincts will be voting in churches, though the name of the church does not appear in any of the precinct names.

Other Action

In other action at the Board of Elections and Registration meeting on Sept. 1, Leathers told the Board that she is “overwhelmed” by people who want to be poll workers on Nov. 3.

Click To Enlarge

As of that date, she said, her office had received and processed 3,958 applications for absentee ballots, including the 2,730 rollover requests from elderly and home-bound voters who made a requests before the June 9 election for absentee ballots for the remainder of the year.

Leathers said that third party mailings of requests for absentee ballots has caused “some confusion” because some people have already applied for a ballot and then get a mailing asking them to do that again.

“We have no control over the third party applications,” she said. “They are just as valid as every other application that we have.”

“We’re happy for anybody to call us,” she said. “We want people to call and ask rather than not get an application.”

Leathers said that the county had 30,734 registered voters as of the date of the meeting.

She updated that figure as of the end of the day on Wednesday (yesterday). The new figure is 31,050. The chart above is based on the updated figures.

Voting Dates

Leathers said the Secretary of State Office will mail out the actual absentee ballots through a contractor. The Board agreed to pay a fee to the Secretary of State for ballots mailed in response to late applications.

The secure absentee ballot dropbox in front of the Board of Elections and Registration Office at 10 Court Street in Watkinsville, across from the Courthouse, will be open to receive ballots on Sept. 15, Leathers told the Board.

Early voting will be from Oct. 12 to Oct. 30 at the Civic Center, 2661 Hog Mountain Road, west of Butler’s Crossing, Leathers said.

The Civic Center will be open for voting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursdays and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays.

Saturday voting will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 24.

No early voting will take place at the Board of Elections and Registration Office.


The video below is of the Sept. 1 meeting of the Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration.

The meeting was live streamed via the Facebook page of the Elections and Registration Department, but Leathers and Assistant Director Jennifer Stone agreed to record it using my camera as a backup. 

The video below is from my camera.

Leathers spoke about absentee ballot requests at 13:36 in the video.

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