Barrow County will have fewer polling locations starting with next month’s presidential preference primaries, but there will be additional poll workers and equipment at each location to accommodate any larger crowds.
The county’s board of elections voted unanimously in January to reduce the number of polling locations by half, from 16 to 8, combining precincts across those locations.
The changes affected about half of the county’s registered voters (around 25,000), and new cards were mailed out last week to those affected, county elections and voter registration director Monica Franklin said.
Franklin said the board had worked on the changes for several months before approving them in a meeting and said the changes were primarily due to low attendance at some previous locations.
“In looking at the results over the last four to six years, we saw an increase in advanced voting numbers and a decrease in election day turnout at some of the polling locations,” Franklin said. “The board was on the same page on this, and they all agreed this would the best thing to do.”
Advanced voting for the March 24 presidential primaries begins March 2 and runs through March 20, Mondays through Fridays, with Saturday voting March 7 and 14. Franklin said the board decided to add a second Saturday for voting this year, even though state law only requires one Saturday for voting. She said the board will also “likely” extend weekday advanced voting hours for the May general primaries and the November general election.
The new and newly-combined polling locations and precincts are as follows:
•Precinct 1 — Bethlehem Community Center, 750 Manger Ave. No changes.
•Precincts 2 and 15 combined — Bethlehem Church – 211 campus, 1054 Old Thompson Mill Rd., Hoschton.
•Precincts 3 and 12 combined and new polling location — Hmong New Hope Alliance Church, 1622 Union Grove Church Rd., Auburn.
•Precincts 4 and 14 combined and new polling location — Covenant Life Sanctuary, 115 Patrick Mill Rd. SW, Winder.
•Precincts 5 and 7 combined — Barrow County Emergency Services Fire Station 1, 1625 Bethlehem Rd., Statham.
•Precincts 8 and 9 combined — First Baptist Church Winder, 625 Jefferson Hwy.
•Precincts 6, 10, 13 and a small portion of 15 combined — Winder Community Center, 113 East Athens St.
•Precincts 11 and 16 combined — Church at Winder, 546 Treadwell Rd., Bethlehem.
A map of the precincts and new polling locations and be found online at www.barrowga.org.