Election Commissioner of District 5 Dorothy Rolison and Circuit Clerk Sally Wedgeworth have been before the board of supervisors more than once about concerns over the East Quitman voting precinct. According to Rolison and Wedgeworth, there is a lot of trouble with parking at this location due to school traffic and occasionally funerals, and numerous tree stumps on the grounds which could potentially cause someone to fall.
“During the elections, polling places get crowded,” stated Wedgeworth. “We’ve had problems at the East Quitman polling place with parking arrangements. We have been before the board to discuss moving this polling place to a different location that would provide more parking, a more stable walking surface, and a bigger building, but no action was taken in the board room.”
Supervisor Mickey Long says they are working on correcting the issues as best they can until they can build a new building. The building itself was remodeled on the inside with new flooring, a wheel chair ramp, a handicapped accessible bathroom and an updated kitchen. The outside grounds were cleaned up, trees cut and voter parking only signs put in place. Supervisor Long also stated they had Quitman Police directing traffic.
“I talked to Dorothy about it the day after the election,” stated Long. “There were so many people voting, it was congested. They had a record number of people that turned out to vote. She knows we are trying to arrange to build a new place; we’ve already agreed to do it. Building a new building is an expensive thing; we are in the process but we have to get funding.
Several voting precincts were packed with voters here locally and nationally as well. Numerous posts on social media showed people standing in very long lines for hours waiting to vote.
“We went after work and weren’t there that long, stated Dianne Loper. “I don’t see why we should spend money trying to fix somewhere else to move when it serves the purpose. There’s enough parking there. I understand that if you come during school traffic hours, parking can be slim, but it doesn’t take long to get in and out. I’ve never had any trouble.”
According to Long, it’s not fair to compare this year’s election traffic due to the overwhelming voter response this year. “When you are prepared for what you normally get infrastructure wise, and you get twice the number of people, there’s no way to prepare for that,” stated Long.
The supervisors are preparing to build a new location for this particular voting precinct, but it will take some time. “We’ve got to get the money in line first, then find a good location,” said Long. “It also has to be approved by the Secretary of State also. It’s not something we can change overnight and we could not address this concern this year due to covid.”
According to The Clarke County Sheriff’s Department who is responsible for the school resource officer for Quitman School District, traffic was especially bad this year due to the voter turnout for the Presidential election.
“Traffic was horrible before school and during school release,” stated Chief Deputy Barry White. “With the high number of voting traffic plus the school traffic, it was really a mess. Until the supervisors do something about the parking for the voters, I don’t know what to do about it.”
White stated some of the bus drivers have complained and want something different, along with the parents who pick up their children from the lower elementary.
“Some had to park in the cemetery to come in to vote,” added White. “There is no parking in the area for voters.”
“I didn’t have any problems whatsoever. I went there, did my thing and left, and I was there at lunchtime,” said Carole Loper. “There was cars there, but didn’t have any problem parking. It went by pretty quick. I thought they did a good job.