Consolidated Polling Increases The Cost of Voting in Person

It’s only about four and a half miles from downtown Trego to the Volunteer Fire Department for Fortine, which is where we used to go to vote. Going into Eureka (as per that letter we all received from the county) will increase the distance by about thirteen miles (according to google maps).

The distance I am supposed to travel to vote just got multiplied by a bit over 3. Of course, I live in downtown Trego, which means that my distance increased less than most.

Looking at a map, it looks like the furthest up Fortine Creek Road are now going to be traveling close to thirty miles. That’s one way. Sixty mile round trip. Just to vote.

That, in combination with gas prices, provides an incentive for mail in ballots, despite the risks associated with those. We’re also assured that ballot drop kiosks will “encourage high voter turnout”. Hopefully, they’ll avoid the kind of problems they had last time.

Why do this? To quote the county:

The decision to consolidate polling places is based on careful consideration of the following criteria:

-Increased Ballot Security
-Less Ballot Transport
-Number of Electors within the precinct
-Distance between polling locations
-Accessibility/ADA compliance of polling place
-Accommodations for social distancing
-Election Judge participation”

Frankly, I can’t see anything that incentivizes mail in voting as increasing security. As for decreasing ballot transport? Sure. By putting the cost on the voters in the form of gasoline and time. We’ll pay the same amount in taxes, but it will cost us more to vote. It might save the county government money, but it doesn’t do anything for the voters.

As for Accessibility and ADA? Making someone travel an extra forty miles so they can go to a building that’s closer to code might be true to the letter of ADA, but it doesn’t feel true to the spirit. At the TFS Fire Department, our election judges were local. I don’t have any doubt that they would have done whatever they needed to in order to provide the accommodations someone needed to vote. And- because we’re smaller, they’d have been able to take the time to do it.

Want someone to thank? Email addresses for all three of our county commissioners, and the election administrator that recommended it to them are available on the county website.

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