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Brunswick County proposes change to voting precinct boundaries, polling locations

Updated: Mar. 24, 2021 at 5:14 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK, N.C. (WECT) - Voters are often used to going to the same precincts to cast their ballots, but with the growth that has happened in recent years, you might want to double check before the next election day.

With thousands of people pouring into Brunswick County, it’s putting a strain on everything from infrastructure to the voting system. Longtime Leland resident Gail Bromley says something has to give.

“They need more precincts,” said Bromley, the Fair Elections Action Team chair for League of Women Voters of Lower Cape Fear. “They need changes, and they need changes that best meet the voters’ needs so they can get to a precinct more easily on election day.”

The county’s Board of Elections knows the system is strained too.

“We would have them come to us and ask ‘hey, would you look at my precinct? It’s too large,’ or ‘I have to travel too far to my polling place,’ and we would say ‘well, we’re in the middle of an election right now,’” said Board of Elections director Sara Knotts.

Over a dozen precincts could see changes to their boundaries or polling locations. But what goes into a making a building a polling location?

“A polling place has to be ADA accessible, it has to have enough parking for the voters, it has to have space inside and this last election we had to have a look at space inside in terms of social distancing,” said Knotts.

The new polling locations include two town halls, a library and a few other spots. Part of the proposal includes adding two schools to the list of places to vote. As for what that means for kids in class that day, it’s up to the Board of Education.

“We have been in contact with them and — what they do for us, with the two schools we have used traditionally, is they would have a teacher workday on election day for just those two schools,” said Knotts. “I have made the Board of Education aware of what we’re thinking in terms of coming into some additional schools, which does pose a challenge. They’ve already published their calendar for the next school year.”

The changes aim to cut down on voters waiting in line at the polls and solve problems with people having to pass one polling location to get to another.

It’s a start, but with growing towns, an influx of older adults and many others living in rural areas, you can’t please everyone.

Gail Bromley was glad to hear about the proposed changes, but she says the county will still deal with growing pains when it comes to voting as the area continues to grow.

“The only thing I was disappointed in was that there wasn’t a place in Brunswick Forest that was available where voting would be sufficient,” said Bromley, pointing out that Brunswick Forest is a fast-growing community.

The county hopes these polling place changes will bring a vote of confidence before the next election.

To share your thoughts on the proposed changes, fill out the Brunswick County Board of Election’s survey here. The survey will close at 5 p.m. April 15.

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