Trailer to temporarily house voting precinct at Eudora Welty Library
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Voters who cast ballots at the Eudora Welty Library should be relatively cool when they vote Tuesday in the Republican primary runoffs.
Days after the chairman of the Hinds County Republican Party called on the Welty precinct to be moved due to a lack of air conditioning, a trailer was set up in the library’s parking lot to serve as a temporary voting precinct.
“Supervisor (Credell) Calhoun moved in the office trailer and had it set up with a generator, so we’ll have an air-conditioned space,” Chairman Pete Perry said.
Meanwhile, last week Supervisor Vern Gavin declared the precinct at Siwell Middle School to be unsafe and had it moved to Timberlawn Elementary School across the street, Perry said.
“The Election Commission said they didn’t have enough time three weeks ago to move the precincts. Then, four days before the election, the (board of supervisors) did,” said Perry. “So, they always had that possibility. The (the commission) just didn’t want to deal with it.”
Republican Party runoffs are slated for Tuesday, June 28. Voters will cast ballots in either the runoff between District 2 candidates Ronald Eller and Brian Flowers or the District 3 race between incumbent Rep. Michael Guest and Michael Cassidy.
Perry previously called for Precinct 1, located at the Welty Library in downtown Jackson, to be relocated due to a lack of air conditioning there.
The library, the flagship branch of the Jackson/Hinds Library System, has been closed since at least early May due to an air conditioning problem there. The city has offered no timeline on when the issue would be addressed.
The HVAC system was out during the party primaries earlier this month.
Election commissioners said they were notified of the outage there just days before the June 7 primary and did not have enough time to find a new location prior to the vote.
Commission Chair Shirley Varnado told WLBT on June 15 there was also not enough time to find a new polling location or to inform voters of any changes prior to the June 28 primary.
“Those poll workers are there from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 or 8 o’clock at night,” Perry said. “That’s a long time to have to sit there in that heat.”
Calhoun said he began working on finding an alternative site for Welty voters as soon as he learned the building was not air-conditioned.
“The commission said it was too late to move it, so I said we would try to get a trailer out there. The next day I worked on it, and we got one,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, we don’t want our voters coming in and poll workers coming into a place that’s really hot.”
Calhoun said the trailer was provided free of charge by Benchmark Construction, a contractor the county uses to make repairs at the Raymond Detention Center.
Calhoun and Perry are calling on the Welty precinct to be relocated prior to the November general election.
Perry said he also is worried about access to the building Tuesday, with a portion of Mississippi Street blocked off, so a new water main can be installed.
The road is currently reduced to one-way as a result.
The Republican Party chairman also was checking Monday to ensure the air was on at Chastain Middle School.
“The air wasn’t working last time. I don’t know if that was because the air was on or if it was out,” he said. “The commission was supposed to take care of that. I’m on my way down there to suggest they need to turn on the A/C tonight.”
Perry says the county also needs to relocate the voting precinct at the now-vacant Rowan Middle School building, which, like Welty, also has air conditioning issues.
Perry said that the precinct could be relocated “really easily” to Peoples Funeral Home, which already houses Precinct Two.
“JPS is not using it anymore, so the air conditioning doesn’t work,” he said, referring to Rowan. “I will have workers that are going to be sitting there without any air conditioning.”
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