Three complaints have been filed opposing the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registrations plan to reduce voting precincts from 48 to 28.
Opposition came from the Columbus Branch of the NAACP, Edward DuBose, president of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP and a woman who noted her precinct has been changed four times since 1969, said Nancy Boren, executive director of the Elections and Registrations. Thursday is the deadline set by the elections board on Feb. 4 to submit comments about the precinct changes that were approved by the board and sent last month to the Department of Justice for approval.
During a board meeting earlier this month, officials said changes are needed to meet requirements of the Muscogee County School District, make use of new voting technology and use fewer staffers to hold an election.
In a statement to the elections board, Columbus NAACP President Marcus B. Hunter expressed concerns for the elderly and minorities. “The Columbus Branch of the NAACP believes the community at-large, particularly senior citizens, African-Americans and Hispanics has not had the necessary time to analyze, completely study and understand the Muscogee County Board of Elections decision to petition the U.S. Justice Department for permission to relocate and merge approximately 20 currently available voting precincts.”
Hunter asked the board to immediately withdraw proposals or recommendations relating to the merger and relocation of the precincts.DuBose said the deadline is unrealistic. “It does not speak to the greater issues of have they researched how this would affect the community,” he said.
With the census held this year, Boren said reapportionment will require precincts changes next year anyway.To get more comments from voters, Boren said the board has been invited to two public meetings on precincts. They include:A Call To Talk forum at Fourth Street Baptist Church, 10-11 a.m. Saturday.A public meeting 5:30 p.m. Feb. 25 in the auditorium at the Columbus Public Library.
Boren said the board will consider the precinct changes at its 2 p.m. March 4 meeting at the Government Center.Board chair Margaret Jenkins couldn’t be reached for comment.
DuBose said he won’t make the Saturday meeting at Fourth Street because he’ll be in New York talking with the NAACP’s legal team. “I already asked for a meeting with the national legal counsel,” he said. “I think the whole thing needs to be stopped.”