Registered voters in Clay County will be voting in consolidated precincts for the upcoming Constitutional Amendment election to be held on Nov. 8. Clay County Commissioners approved the consolidation of voting precincts for this election to six polling locations, from the usual 16. The consolidation has been approved by The Department of Justice Elections Division.
Historically, Constitutional Amendment elections have low voter turn-out. The November 2009 Constitutional Amendment election in Clay County produced under 1,000 voters County-wide on election day and early voting combined. In a county of over 7,000 registered voters, this shows little interest from voters over-all.
The cost of conducting a County-wide election continues to grow. With the costs of purchasing ballots, programming media, renting polling places, and paying poll-workers, the November 2010 general election set Clay County back approximately $30,000. Clay County Clerk Sasha Kelton, said the expense outweighs the benefit of opening all 16 polling locations and employing approximately 50 poll workers.
“In this type of election, where we have very low voter turn-out, and with the expense of conducting an election, we just did not feel it was a good service to the tax payers to have all polling locations open,” said Kelton. “Legally, we must have only one polling place open in each of the four Commissioners’ precincts. Voting precincts have been consolidated this way in the past. For this election, I presented the Commissioners with a consolidation plan that I felt best served the voters and tax payers of Clay County.”
Kelton also reminds voters that voting on Election Day at the consolidated polling place is not their only option. Clay County voters may cast their ballots during early voting which is held at the Clay County Courthouse Annex, 214 N. Main St., in Henrietta the two full weeks before each election. For this election, Early Voting will be conducted Oct. 24-Nov. 4 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also, qualifying voters may apply for a ballot by mail, which began Sept. 9. A voter may cast an absentee ballot by mail if he or she is age 65 or older, disabled, or will have an expected absence from the county during the election.
The consolidation notice will be published in local print media and posted at the Courthouse Annex several weeks before the election. For questions on where to vote or how to vote early, contact the County Clerk at (940) 538-4631.