LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Board of Elections elected a new chairman and voted to request moving two precincts before the upcoming election. The board now changes over the chairmanship in July instead of January, as well as specifically stating that a Republican must be a chair in even numbered years and a Democrat during odd numbered years.
William Bullard had been serving as chair and Hal Culberson as vice-chair, but the two switched positions on Tuesday with Culberson becoming chair for the third time and Bullard becoming vice-chair. Diana Johnston was elected to continue as secretary.
The two precincts that could possibly be moving are Precinct Eight and Precinct Nine from the suggestion of Board of Elections Director Dell Parker.
Precinct Eight could move from the Sneads Grove Community Building to the Economic Development Building. The current location is older and needs a bit of work, while the possible new location is newer and bigger. The new location would be six miles from the current location, making it further for some voters but closer for others.
The move would also address an issue that has faced the board, having bathrooms outside of the voting area. The Sneads Grove location has bathrooms inside the same area as the polling station and, according to law, those who aren’t voting aren’t allowed in the polling area.
Precinct Nine, located in the Laurel Hill Community Building, would stay in the building but will be moving rooms. The current room being used is also used by Richmond Community Center and there are certain computers that poll workers are not allowed to touch or move, so the board hopes to move it to a bigger room in the building.
The board unanimously decided to approve the decision and send a request to move the precincts to the State Board of Elections for its approval. If the request does get approved, the Board of Elections will have until Oct. 5 to send out letters to the registered voters in the precinct areas.
“In essence, we’re improving the quality of the building in both instances and that’s always a plus,” said Culberson.
There was also talk about House Bill 35 which requires all One-Stop polling stations to run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. unless the station is at the Board of Elections office, where it can then stay the same hours as the office office. Parker suggested that to try the new One-Stop hours just to see how it would work in Scotland County.
“If we give them the hours within the law we can have statistics that we could use in future elections if we feel like we need to cut the hours back,” Parker said. “My standpoint is to go with those hours and see what our voter turnout will be.”
The board agreed to try the hours to have the statistics for future reference and to see if the 12 hours would work for the One-Stop. The early voting will also get one day added on, with Wednesday opening the voting rather than Thursday, and the Saturday in the upcoming election will most likely be the last time One-Stop offers a Saturday vote day, according to the new law.
Katelin Gandee can be reached at 910-506-3171 or [email protected]