Local voting places consolidated at Union Township
BUCKEYE LAKE – Buckeye Lake Village, Union Township, and Hebron voters will all vote at the Union Township Complex on Beaver Run Road Nov. 5.
The old polling places serving those voters – Our Lady of Mount Carmel social hall in Buckeye Lake, Hebron American Legion Hall, and Infirmary Mound Park- -will not be open.
“This was a cost saving move and we have better technology to serve the voters,” said Licking County Board of Elections Director Sue Penick. “Buckeye Lake was not moved to Lakewood (Athletic Building) because Licking and Franklin townships are there.” She said the county would not provide voters transportation to the Union Township Complex and suggested voters call their party offices for transportation if necessary.
“I think it’s unfortunate,” said Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker. “So many people in the village don’t have that kind of transportation. When a village election can’t be held in the village, something’s wrong with that.”
Buckeye Lake Director of Development Mike Cassidy said the board of elections changed the polling place without consulting the village. “With all the issues in this election it seems to me that we could eliminate a large percentage of voters,” he said. “I talked to (Penick) Friday and she just kind of laughed it off and sent me some absentee ballot applications. So we do have them available here at the (Buckeye Lake Village) office.”
Cassidy said instead of the convenience of Buckeye Lake residents voting at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel church, where people came and voted all day long, many walking there, the board of elections moved the polling place to Beaver Run Road, seven miles from Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Cassidy said if residents have a post office box as part of their registered address, the county will send them a post card, but a Post Office representatives said many arrived with just the street address and can’t be delivered.
Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason emphasized at Wednesday night’s council meeting that village officials learned about the change the same way voters did – via a postcard.
“I was surprised,” Mason said. “The Village of Hebron had no say in it.”
“We went from 45 down to 25 locations,” said Licking County Board of Elections Deputy Director Gloria Carson, who added that polling places are being consolidated all over the county. She said the county now uses laptop computers for voter check-in and there is no longer any differentiation between precincts on the voting machines; anyone from any precinct can vote at any machine. “Remember when you’d have a line in Precinct B, but no line in A,” said Carson. “That won’t happen anymore.” She said the Village of Buckeye Lake is now one precinct.
Carson said the board of elections consolidated precincts from 125 precincts countywide to 95. She said the county saves $500 per precinct on poll workers and fewer precincts saves on voting machine delivery costs.
Carson said all Licking County voters are being notified of changes by mail and she realizes that the changes may inconvenience some voters. “It may not work for all places,” she said. “We’re going to look over it after voting.” Carson said board of elections members believed this was a good election to implement the new procedures and adjustments will be made in the future to anything that doesn’t go smoothly.
“We told them (the Union Township Complex) was available if they needed a place,” said Union Township Trustee President Rick Black. The next thing he knew, the complex became the place to vote. “I never expected anything like this,” he said. “Why they put everybody here is beyond me.”
Absentee ballot applications are also available at The Beacon office in the Blue Heron Boardwalk. Here’s the key instructions from the Licking County Board of Elections website.
“An application by mail must be received by your county board of elections by noon on the third day before the election. The last day of in person voting is the Friday before the election at 6 p.m. Applications for persons who are hospitalized or for persons whose minor child is hospitalized due to an accident or unforeseeable medical emergency will be accepted until 3 p.m. on Election Day.
When you receive your bal- lot: If you return your ballot by mail, it must be postmarked* no later than the day before Election Day and received by your county board of elections no later than 10 days after the election. If you return your ballot in person or if a near relative delivers it to the board for you, it must be delivered to your county board of elections no later than the close of polls on Election Day.”
“*Postmarked does not include a date marked by a postage evidence system such as a postage meter.”