Despite Long Lines, Paulding Elections Chief Stands By Closing Precincts

9:05 AM, Nov 4, 2010   |    comments
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Tuesday's line outside of a polling place in Paulding County.

DALLAS, GA -- A day after some voters stood in line for up to three hours to cast their ballots, the supervisor of Paulding County Elections is standing by a decision to close half of the area's voting precincts.

Election Supervisor Deidre Holden says Paulding County is saving approximately $80,000 each time voters go to the polls by reducing the number of polling places from 28 to 14. The county spent approximately $500,000 on five elections in 2008. Since closing the polling places, the county has so far spent $80,000 on four elections.

Paulding County's voting population has grown by approximately 30,000 in the past six years.

Some voters say they were caught off guard when they found long lines and voters who were once assigned to other locations.

"It might not have been so bad if there had been more voting machines," said Diane Torres. "But a line like that and one small room with 12 machines?"

Torres claims her only warning was a card stamped with the words "vote early".

Paulding County election officials thought that's what most people would do. They based that on the 2008 Presidential election, when the majority of Paulding County voters cast their ballots during the early voting period.

This go round, most voters waited until Tuesday. Nearly half of the registered voters in Paulding County cast a ballot, squeezing into half of the precincts the county used in 2008.

The closings were part of the Election Board's effort to cut 30 percent from their budget.

"It was a good idea," said Election Supervisor Deidre Holden. "I think the voters should be more educated on what is our there for them by utilizing the early voting, the paper ballot voting, and the extended hours we offered them."

Holden admits the county will re-evaluate.

The long lines were limited to three precincts, the ones located in the most populated areas of Paulding County. Holden says the county will consider reopening voting locations in those areas.

Diane Torres wonders if closing precincts saved that much money.

"If the savings are that much, why aren't all of the other county's doing it?" said Torres.

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