Baxter County, Arkansas looking to switch to voting centers

Published: Aug. 16, 2018 at 9:12 PM CDT
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Currently in Baxter County voters have a designated polling place they are supposed to go to on Election Day.

But now the election commission and the county clerk is looking to change to voting centers.

“Voting centers allows them to go to any voting center to cast their ballot on Election Day," County Clerk Canda Reese said.

It also means the number of places to go to vote would be cut in half - from 22 to 11. They would be the Baxter County Courthouse in Mountain Home, Wesley United Methodist Church in Cotter, Charles R. Newton Emergency Services Training Center in Midway, Northeast Lakeside Fire Department in Mountain Home, Eastside Baptist Church in Mountain Home, Christ Community Church in Mountain Home, Lone Rock Baptist Church in Norfork, Big Flat City Hall, Salesville City Hall, Norfork Community Center, and the Henderson Fire Department.

Early voting would be at the Baxter County Courthouse and another offsite location.

But county leaders said they will have to shut down 10 polling locations anyway because they weren’t compliant with the ADA.

“Combining to vote centers really was timely, in regards to that information from disability rights, because we were going to have to address those issues and find other voting locations anyway.”

County leaders are holding public meetings for voters to learn more about the voting centers.

Linda McCarthy, a voter in Cotter, said, “I just wanted to see how they planned it out and how it was gonna work.”

People who attended the meeting said they think overall the voting centers are a good idea. But they said some people may be upset they no longer can go to the polling place they normally go to.

Phyllis Burnett, a voter in Cotter, said, “I think there’s enough of us concerned about it and we know who those people are that we can offer to take them.”

The county clerk said they are hoping to get new equipment for the centers, but they will be able to use the equipment they have now in the meantime.

The quorum court could approve voting centers as early as next month, and the election in November would be the first time the county uses them.

Three more public meetings will be held at the Baxter County Courthouse in Mountain Home where voters can come and ask questions and learn more about voting centers. They will be Friday at 10 a.m., Monday at 2 p.m., and Thursday at 6 p.m.