Three of Johnston County’s 36 polling places are changing this year, two in Selma and one in Archer Lodge.
East Selma Precinct, previously at Selma Baptist Church, will return to the Selma Fire Station. West Selma Precinct will move from Selma Elementary School to the Richard B. Harrison Alumni building. And Archer Lodge Precinct will move from Archer Lodge Middle School to the newly-built town hall.
The Johnston County Board of Elections made the changes at its meeting earlier this month. Leigh Anne Price, supervisor of elections, said the changes will help with multiple issues.
“We’re trying to get our polling places out of schools because when there’s an election, there’s not always a teacher workday,” Price said. “And with the buses and the kids, it’s really a safety issue.”
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Price said the schools had been accommodating, “But the larger a precinct gets that’s in a school, the more voters that come,” she said. “So we decided to see if we couldn’t find something out of the schools.”
In Selma, Price said, her office received complaints about the Selma Elementary School polling place during the 2012 election. “We have had a lot of complaints that the school is too crowded with the students and the traffic, the parents dropping off the students and picking them up,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot of parking for voters.”
At Selma Baptist Church, location was the issue; voters wanted the polling place to be inside the town limits, Price said. “It makes it more convenient for the Selma voters,” she said.
Selma Fire Chief Phillip McDaniel said the fire station was prepared for the voting crowds of a town election. “We had a recent remodel about two years ago,” he said, “so we’re a lot more set up for something along these lines.”
McDaniel said the station itself has little parking, but many curbside spaces parking are nearby. The station plays host to Selma’s annual Senior Day, which draws about 200 people, and they find parking, he said.
“It may get a little busy, but I think we will be able to handle it with no problem,” McDaniel said.
Handicapped voters will be able to pull up to the back of the building and vote at the curb, he said.
Archer Lodge’s Town Hall, finished just a year ago, is also equipped to handle a crowd, said Mayor Mike Gordon.
“This year at Archer Lodge there’s going to be the school bond issues, and then we have two unopposed council seat incumbents running, so we’re expecting a crowd but not a normal big crowd like for a general election,” Gordon said. “We’re hoping that we have ample parking around.”
Town Hall’s meeting room, where voting will take place, has two entrances, making for easy ingress and egress, Gordon said. Also, the building has an overflow parking lot, and it is accessible by the handicapped.
“And for the folks who live in the town, we hope to give them the opportunity to see the new town hall,” Gordon said.