Before voting to approve or deny the proposed precinct changes, the elections board will have one last public hearing at 9:30 a.m. at Albert L. Stone Elections Building in Canton.
The proposed changes would take effect in the 2014 general primary election and would result in many Cherokee residents having to go to a new polling place, according to Cherokee County Supervisor of Elections and Registration Janet Munda.
Residents’ representatives, however, will remain the same, even if their precinct changes.
Munda said Friday that the intention of the precinct cut was to save money.
The polling place reduction is a viable option, because the number of residents choosing to take advantage of early voting has increased in recent years, which has decreased the number of voters turning out on Election Day, Munda said.
According to documents from the Cherokee County Elections and Voter Registration office, early voting in the county has spiked drastically in recent years and has more than doubled since 2006.
As a result, fewer precincts and poll workers are needed, Munda said.
In recent weeks, Munda has been traveling around the county explaining the changes to residents and elected officials, but said she has heard little input from the public.
“We’ve had our public hearing,” she said. “Very limited people came.”
Those who have spoken out, though, seem supportive, Munda said.
“Most people are liking it, thinking it’s due,” she said.
But a few residents have expressed concerns about the boundaries of the new voter precincts, which Munda said are based on city limits within Cherokee.
“It does look a little crazy, I agree, but those are the city limits,” she said.
One resident who spoke out at the elections board’s first public hearing on the proposed changes was Cherokee resident Ursula Cox.
Cox lives in a sparsely populated area in central Cherokee County just east of Interstate 575, which is planned to be incorporated into the new Butterworth precinct.
In general, Cox said Friday she is very supportive of the proposed changes, but for her and about a dozen neighbors, the precinct re-workings will leave them in a “unique situation.”
Within the proposed changes, voters in the Butterworth precinct will vote at Grace Church on Butterworth Road.
Cox said Grace Church is a good bit farther for them than the Cherokee County Senior Center, where they would vote if they were in the Univeter precinct.
According to maps available on the Cherokee elections office website, the Senior Center actually sits in the new Butterworth precinct.
Cox said she and her neighbors would rather a boundary be drawn that is more “practical” and would allow them to be in the Univeter precinct, which surrounds them on the north, east and south sides.
If that were to happen, they wouldn’t have to drive nearly as far to vote, as they already have been for years, she said.
But Cox said because of state voting districts the Georgia General Assembly would have to approve the change, and the Cherokee elections board has no way to help until that time.
The Cherokee elections board could, however, elect to accept Cox’s request to be taken into the new Univeter precinct, contingent upon approval of the General Assembly, she said.
Munda said most residents won’t have to drive too far to vote.
Within the precinct re-drawing, the average distance voters would have to travel to cast their ballots would be less than three miles, according to Munda.
The most affected area in terms of driving distance, the new North Canton district, has about 2,800 registered voters who will have to drive an average of 5.14 miles if the changes are approved.
The farthest distance any one resident in that precinct would have to travel to vote would be just over 13 miles.
For a complete list of the proposed changes, visit http://www.voter.cherokeega.com/.