Nine voting precincts in Hinds Co. could be relocated before November election
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - With less than seven weeks to go before the November general election, officials in Hinds County could have to find nine new voting precincts.
Election Commissioner Yvonne Horton says some contacts are unwilling to allow their facilities to be used again after their experiences during the August party primaries and runoffs.
She says in most cases, precinct officials are backing out - or considering backing out - due to problems with the company brought on to deliver the machines.
Those concerns were outlined in documents presented to the board of supervisors on Monday. They include reports of delivery personnel being rude and demanding of precinct officials. Some also raised concerns that the machines were not picked up and dropped off in a timely manner.
Two other precincts have other issues altogether. Belmont Missionary Baptist Church, for instance, must be reviewed to determine if it meets the accessibility requirements to accommodate disabled voters. The precinct at Eudora Welty Library also must be moved after the library closed this summer.
“I was elected in 2016. I took office in 2017. This is the largest number of precincts that I can remember who said, ‘We don’t want to do it,’” she said.
County Administrator Kenny Wayne Jones says the problem isn’t the delivery company, but the commission, which has refused to work with the firm brought on to deliver the devices.
“The delivery person is supposed to work with the Election Commission. But the delivery person said they would not talk to them,” he said. “I have documentation showing the reluctance of the Election Commission to work with them.”
This summer, the county hired Franky J’s Moving and Delivery to deliver machines to all 107 voting precincts. It is not known if the Brandon-based company is on tap to deliver them again for the general election.
Jones says the commission wanted to keep Professionals on Wheels, which is owned by Kenneth Williams, a technician the county uses to repair and maintain the machines.
Horton disputes Jones’ claims, saying the concerns brought up by precinct leaders have nothing to do with the commission, but the company making the deliveries.
“Some of them have said if the same delivery companies used in the last two elections do it, we don’t want to do it,” Horton said. “One... pulled out because it said that particular delivery company wanted [the precinct] to work around their schedule.”
Documents show that at a precinct in Utica, voting machines dropped off for the August 8 primaries were not picked up until machines for the run-off were delivered.
At another precinct, Sykes Park Community Center, commissioners say a machine delivered for the August 29 run-off still had not been picked up as of September 20.
Mario Johnson, owner of Franky J’s, says he and his employees were never rude, and that he’s got the record to back that up. “We are not rude. Check with Madison County. We have delivered for them for years and had zero problems,” he said.
As for inconsistent deliveries, Johnson says his company was given the incorrect or out-of-date contact information for several of the precincts, making it hard to schedule drop-off times. He was unable to pick up machines in some cases because the devices were not locked.
“We can’t move them when they’re unlocked,” he said. “That’s the responsibility of the poll manager.”
As for the Sykes Park machine, he says he was unable to pick it up despite three attempts to do so.
“There was an issue, but it was not a delivery issue,” he said. “We’re just trying to make a living.”
Horton says it’s now up to supervisors to find new locations and to approve them as a board prior to the general election.
She said the commission presented the information to the board this week to ensure supervisors have enough time to act.
“We gave it to the supervisors because it is their responsibility to choose a voting location,” she said. “The public probably thinks it is ours, but it is not.”
Precincts possibly impacted include:
Precinct CA - Belmont Missionary Baptist Church
Precinct DG - Spring Hill Christian Center
Precinct CY - Maclean Volunteer Fire Station
Precinct R1 - Raymond United Methodist Church
Precinct 76 - Sykes Park Community Center
Precinct 1 - Eudora Welty Library
Precinct 49 - Jackson State University
Precinct B3 - Trinity Wesleyan Church
Precinct 63 - Davis Temple Church of God in Christ
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