Pulaski County is once again moving its early voting location. The county commissioners took action last week to move in-person absentee voting to the Pulaski County Justice Center for next year’s election cycle.
Election board member Laura Bailey said the space at the Pulaski County Public Library was not big enough to handle the increasing number of early voters. “We ended up, often, with lines out into their area, and it was a disturbance to their work and stuff,” she explained. “They have not complained in the slightest. We also had a few constituents say that it was a long walk to get back there because they don’t have as much handicap parking. It was an accessible building, but from the parking lot, it was a pretty good huff all the way to where we were voting.”
Bailey added that the distance between the library and the courthouse also posed some challenges for Clerk Christi Hoffa. “Multiple times a day, sometimes there are little bugs or questions or something that require the clerk’s attention. And so she was constantly having to go over to the library, and that was a lot of lost work time in the traveling.”
To solve those problems, Bailey said Sheriff Jeff Richwine agreed to allow part of the Justice Center to be used for early voting. “Just outside of the sheriff’s office door, there’s a niche with some lockers at the end that are not used,” Bailey said. “There’s a power supply there, et cetera. We’ve looked at a potential layout of how it would work, to help guide his traffic, which he says it not real heavy, into his office but around the chairs waiting. There are a ton of handicap parking spaces right there in front of the building, and it would be right inside the door.” She said the election board tested out the site by setting up voting machines to make sure there was enough room.
The commissioners unanimously approved three resolutions allowing the move. The first decommissioned the Pulaski County Public Library as a vote center. The second established a vote center at the Pulaski County Justice Center. The third designated the Justice Center as an annex of the Pulaski County Clerk’s Office, since state law technically requires one voting location to be in the clerk’s office.
Early voting used to take place at the clerk’s office before the 2016 elections, but concerns about ADA compliance and voter privacy at the courthouse forced it to be moved elsewhere.