The Bladen County Board of Elections has scheduled two special meetings —one at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bladen County Public Library for Elizabethtown Precincts 1 and 2 and another meeting on Thursday, Oct. 1, at 6:30 p.m. for Bladenboro Precincts 1 and 2 at the Bladenboro Historical Building.
Bladen County Board of Elections Director Cynthia Shaw said the Board of Elections is considering the possibility of going to one voting precinct in Elizabethtown and Bladenboro. She stressed the plan is not finalized. The meetings are scheduled to give the public a chance to hear the plan and to make comments and ask questions.
“The board has been discussing the possibility of combining Elizabethtown 1 and 2 into one precinct and the possibility of combining Bladenboro 1 and 2 into one precinct,” said Shaw.
She said one reason the board is looking at this, is because the One Stop and Mail Absentee voting is in high demand in Bladen County.
Bladen County Board of Elections Chairman Bobby Ludlum said since the county has started using One Stop, voters are getting accustomed to being able to vote at any One Stop location. Ludlum said that, occassionally, on the general election day, some voters get confused and will show up at a precinct other than the one they are registered in and try to vote.
“What happens when that occurs, is they (the poll workers) have to stop, call the Board of Elections Office, and find out where the individual is supposed to vote,” said Ludlum.
He said the voter then is upset and the processes at the precinct are slowed as poll workers try to assist the voter.
“By combining these precinct,s that won’t prevent that from happening but it will help,” said Ludlum.
The meetings are designed to be information sessions for folks.
“This is just for the board to get any feedback from the public regarding that. It is something that has been looked at for some time,” said Shaw.
She said combining precincts would also generate a cost savings to the county and the board would not have to have as many poll workers.
Shaw said in Elizabethtown, the board of elections does not have to pay rent for the use of the Parks and Recreation building on King Street or the Powell-Melvin Agricultural Building. However, in Bladenboro, the board of elections is required to pay rent for the use of Spaulding Monroe Middle School and the Bladenboro Historical Society Building.
Shaw said with the current set up, the board has to wait for election results from four precincts to report. By going to one precinct in each town, the board would only have to wait for results from one location, according to Shaw. She added it would reduce the number of voting precincts from the current 17 to 15.
“I do not know what the board’s final decision will be,” said Shaw.
—Erin Smith can be reached at 910-862-4163.