Commissioners voted Thursday not to change the way the county carries out its elections in 2014.
County Clerk Dave Kunko proposed “moving into this century,” he said, by reducing the number of neighborhood polling places from some 50 or more centers to 14 “voting convenient centers.”
The idea was to allow any county voter to cast a ballot at any site, and still allow absentee and mail-in ballots. Some districts with fewer than 100 voters would be required to mail-in their votes.
Selected districts, such as Lake Arthur, would get a voting center. Boot Hill would not. The centers would be spread out across the county at various locations. Kunko chose the sites and had been discussing it since January.
“It’s not like we just dreamed this up overnight,” Kunko said. “We think it’s the right way to go.”
Commissioners at Thursday’s meeting said they needed more time, possibly with a future start date of two years, to review Kunko’s plan and speak to their constituents before making a decision.
Kunko submitted the resolution two weeks before a deadline required by the Secretary of State.
Commissioners Greg Nibert, Smiley Wooton and Robert Corn attended the meeting. Commissioners James Duffey and Kim Chesser were not present.
“It seems to me a great deal of analysis needs to be made to make the jump,” Nibert said. “It can and needs to be done. We owe it to the community to make the ballot accessible to every voter that needs to vote.”
Nibert questioned the thinking that went into the placement of voting centers — for instance putting one in Lake Arthur and not in Boot Hill. He also was concerned about a conflict he found with the state statute. Kunko said he believed the statute should be interpreted differently.
Corn said he was only given the information a week prior to the meeting. More time was needed to talk to his voters in his district.
“There are a couple of things that disturbed me today,” Corn said. “I don’t recall any public meeting. I don’t recall giving the public any opportunity to visit this stuff. It’s a concern to me when you’re knocking down 50 voting sites and proposing 14.”
The math wasn’t clear, as far as saving the county money, Corn said.
“Once the horse gets out of this barn, it’s gone,” Corn said. “This may be the best thing that happened to voting that ever came down the pike, but that’s something that needs to be planned.”