Chamblee voters may see change in polling locationKenny Ray holds a vote sign during a voter registration rally and vaccination clinic hosted by DeKalb County District 5 Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson at the DeKalb County Voter Registration & Elections Office in greater Decatur on Friday, April 1, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.
By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor
DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb Elections board members were divided over several issues at their monthly meeting, namely the approval of polling locations for the November election.
A handful of DeKalb County residents pleaded with the board at the Aug. 11 board meeting to change one particular location in Chamblee. Located inside the public safety building, some said the public may feel uncomfortable voting in a court building.
“It could be a barrier for many people in the community to have the precinct in a police department,” said Haqiqa Bolling.
In 2020, CORE4 Atlanta was a polling location for Chamblee voters, but they have yet to respond to DeKalb Elections about serving as a precinct again, according to DeKalb Elections Director Keisha Smith.
Jane Mezoff called the Chamblee public safety building an unacceptable location change.
“I’m a 60-something white woman. I’m a federal retiree. I’m a law-abiding citizen. Even I would feel intimidated,” said Mezoff. “I really hope we can reconsider.”
DeKalb Elections board members Karli Swift and Susan Motter raised concerns.
“I am in agreement with many public comments, and I don’t think it should be at a facility that functions as a police facility” in the best interest of the constituents, said Swift.
But board members were not in consensus, as Vice Chair Nancy Jester pointed out, adding that she was “perfectly fine” with a polling location at the public safety building. Jester made a motion to approve a list of 14 polling location changes – Chamblee I and Chamblee II among them – and declined to accept a friendly amendment by Swift.
By law, the board must advertise a change in polling places in the county’s legal organ before Sept. 9.
Swift proposed an amended motion to vote on the list of polling changes to exclude Chamblee while the Elections department continues to find an alternate location. The vote passed 3-2, with Jester and board member Anthony Lewis voting no.
Motter said a number of polling locations have similar names, which causes confusion. But voting rights advocates have been trying for years to get DeKalb Elections to rename the precincts.
“We have two locations with Tucker in its name. We have two locations with Chamblee in its name. We have four locations with Miller,” Motter said.
In other news:
– Board members approved 4-1 early voting locations, giving the Elections director power to add locations across the county as needed. Swift voted no.
– Board members voted 5-0 to approve early voting hours at 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and two weekends.
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