Archived Story

Change in two polling places was ‘long overdue’

Published 8:55pm Monday, March 10, 2014

The Tallapoosa County Commission approved the move of two rural polling places that two of the counties chief voting officials said were no longer fit for elections.

Probate Judge Leon Archer and Sheriff Jimmy Abbett requested new poll locations for voters in Beat 4, at the Cowpens Voting House, and Beat 13-1, at the Churchhill Voting House. The moves were “long overdue,” they said.

Archer said the voting houses were basic cinder-block buildings built years ago by the county, which lacked most modern amenities.

The need became undeniable Feb. 11, when county voters cast ballots for the renewal of education funding on a cold, rainy day.

“It was very run down,” Archer said of the Cowpens Voting House. “The electricity is not up to date and the heat is really nonexistent, so (poll workers) were plugging up electric heaters. That was overloading the breaker boxes, which then killed power to the voting machine.”

The Churchhilll location was even worse, as it “did not have running water or a bathroom.”

“The women were wrapped up in blankets just trying to get through the day,” Archer said, noting an election day for poll workers can last more than 15 hours.

The Beat 4 polling place at Cowpens Voting House was moved to Rocky Creek Baptist Church, 3485 Cowpens Road. The voting location for Beat 13-1 was moved from the Churchhill Voting House to Pentecost United Methodist Church, 3665 Churchill Road in Camp Hill.

Both changes were approved unanimously.

The new location for Churchhill voters, at Pentecost UMC, is “about 50 yards away,” he said, and has the heating, air conditioning and especially bathrooms needed for poll workers, who typically spend more than 12 hours working the polls on election day. Portable toilets had to be brought in at that location.

Archer said there are other precincts that cast ballot in the old voting houses that would likely be moved in the future.

The commission also approved the lease-purchase of three new vehicles for the sheriff’s department. The three vehicles were part of the department’s regular vehicle rotation, Abbett said. The department has nine Dodge Charger police cruisers, he said. The three oldest are rotated out each year, with three new models leased to replace them.

“That’s how we keep our fleet going,” he said.

This year’s vehicles were $22,303 under the state bid agreement. That figure is spread out over the car’s three-year lifespan, Abbett said.