UNION TOWNSHIP – Opinions vary widely on how well the consolidation of the Buckeye Lake Village, Hebron, and Union Township’s polling places at the Union Township Complex on Beaver Run Road worked Tuesday.
Licking County Board of Elections Director Sue Penick previously said the consolidation was a cost saving move made possible, in part, through improved voting technology. County-wide the Board of Elections reduced precinct from 125 to 95. Buckeye Lake, Hebron and Union Township all lost one precinct leaving the two villages with one precinct each.
Local officials, who were not consulted about the consolidation or move, were concerned that the move would reduce voter turnout since village voters could no longer walk to their polling place and it now required a five-seven mile drive as opposed to a few blocks when each village had a polling place. Hebron voter turnout was roughly 20 percent of registered voters and Buckeye Lake Village turnout was roughly 28 percent of registered voters.
“We heard good things about it,” said Carson Wednesday, adding that Union Township Complex poll workers said Voting Day “went well.” She said the Licking County Board of Elections would revisit new polling places countywide during the board’s December meeting and determine whether to continue them.
“My perception is (voter turn out) was still pretty light,” said Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker, who continues to oppose moving the village’s polling place to Union Township. “We have a lot of people in the village” who don’t have adequate transportation to the new polling place, he said. Volunteers shuttled village residents to the Union Township Complex.
“It’s hard for me to see where it was a whole lot better,” said Buckeye Lake Director of Development Mike Cassidy, who still opposes the move.
“It was okay,” said Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason. He said he missed being first in line to vote, which he consistently was when Hebron’s polling place was at the Hebron American Legion Hall. “It was not a bad experience,” said Mason.
“I think it went well, all things considered,” said Union Township Trustee President Rick Black. He said he was told some of the poll workers thought the new location likely wouldn’t work in a major election, with state and federal issues and candidates. He said the poll workers said they were busy all day.
Black said parking obviously wasn’t an issue because township administrator Paula Greene told him a farmer pulled up to the Union Township Complex in a huge combine, wanting to vote on his way home from farming. “He had plenty of room to pull in,” said Black.