By Mike Scott
Scotland County is consolidating its voting locations for the Tuesday, April 6 election. Voters will cast their ballots at the Boyer Center, located on the northeast corner of the square in Memphis.
“COVID caused us to have to segregate voting from the rest of the courthouse. Routing voters to through the south entrance was always friendly, and the jail is now open,” explained Batina Dodge, Scotland County Clerk.
“We’re looking to become more efficient and cost effective,” she said.
“Last year’s Municipal election, which was held in June due to the pandemic, had 24 percent turnout, which was very good,” Dodge said. “But some polling places had only 18-24 people vote.”
Each polling place has four election judges, who are paid a total of $120 in salary and training, for a total of $480 per location.
At Bible Grove, only 18 votes were cast, for a cost average of $26.67 per vote. The 30 votes in Rutledge cost $16.00 each. Twenty-four votes were counted from Gorin, at a cost of $20 each, and Arbela’s 60 votes cost $8 each.
Dodge expects an overall cost savings to be 10-15 percent. There will also be savings in the amount of labor and time involved.
“To me it makes sense,” she said.
“I’m not intentionally looking to make this a permanent change. This is more of an experiment to see how we can be more efficient, and what the propensity is for change. Unfortunately, there is no other way to test this than on election day,” Dodge said.
“All voters will have access to the ballot call stations,” added Dodge. Last year, the county purchased two curbside call stations with funds from the CARES Act. These stations allowed voters to remain in their vehicles, press a button, and a poll worker brought the ballot to the car. Curbside voting was available at all polling locations in the past, but the call stations make the process easier.
In addition, by using the larger facility of the Boyer Center, voters can better maintain social distancing.
Absentee voting will be available Monday through Friday, 8:30am until 4:00pm, 8:00am until noon on Saturday, April 3, and 8:30am until 5:00pm on Monday, April 5. Reasons to vote absentee are:
-Absence on Election Day from the jurisdiction of the election authority in which I am registered.
– Incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability, including caring for a person who is incapacitated or confined due to illness or disability. (Notary Not Required)
– Religious belief or practice.
-Employment as an election authority, or by an election authority at a location other than my polling place.
-Incarceration , although I have retained all the necessary qualifications for voting
-Certified participation in the address confidentiality program established under sections 589.660 to 589.681 because of safety concerns.
“As always, we appreciated feedback from our voters. Obviously, we are human, and we may overlook some things in making this change. Please help us with that. We are not looking to make voting harder for anyone. If you feel this change created and undue hardship for you to vote, please call the office so we can discuss options. We will re-assess costs, saving, efficiencies and feedback after the election to determine how we will move forward,” Dodge said.