The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

July 18, 2013

Board of Elections needs polling place for Precinct 4-1


TARBORO — The first form of a motion for the new Edgecombe County Board of Elections could be that of finding a polling place for Precinct 4-1.

Edgecombe County Board of Elections Director, Jerry Spruell told the board Tuesday that he recommends the issue be resolved as soon as possible.

Precinct 4-1 is currently located at Batts Chapel Baptist Church on U.S. Highway 258, north of Tarboro. Members of the church expressed that they would no longer host the election at their church. Batts Chapel has been the Precinct 4-1 polling site for more than 10 years.

Because there are no seats in Precinct 4-1 up for election, the decision not to host the election at Batts Chapel will have no impact on the Nov. 5 election.

Spruell said he, as well as the previous board, had discussed using Free Union Baptist Church in Lawrence or White Chapel Baptist Church in Speed.  

"Right now, we have two locations that we are considering," Spruell said. "I recommend that we go with Free Union because of its location."

If the board chooses, Free Union it must build a handicap ramp on the building to meet the Department of Justice guidelines. Finding funds to build the ramp may or may not be a problem.

"We don't budget for those situations," Spruell said. "Our budget is the county's budget. The county understands our needs and they also understand that if we have a need and if it's not budgeted, they may have to look at it from a different perspective. That's the county commissioner's call to make that decision."

Board member Shelly Willingham said he, as well as a county commissioner, visited the Free Union cite and they both are in favor of using it for Precinct 4-1.

"I feel confident that it will be takien care of," he said. "The county commissioner who was there feels the same way."

The Rev. Roosevelt Higgs, who lives in Speed, said he, too, prefers Union Baptist over White Chapel.

"We had a diverse meeting in the community and the majority of the people signed off on the Free Union location," Higgs said. "The people in Lawrence always had a voting place. When I first got involved it was at Long Store. Then Long Store shut down and they moved it to Batts Chapel. Batts Chapel served very well.

"In relation to the ramp, the ramp had to be put up at Batts Chapel as well. We hope that that will not be an issue."

The new board — Chad Hinton, Janet Lewis and Willingham — were sworn in Tuesday during the board's regularly scheduled meeting.

"We would like to vote on it next meeting. because the plan has to go to the state," Spruell said. "I'll try to have all documents in place for our next meeting. I don't think the state will have a problem with it as long as it satisfies the needs of the citizens.

There are approximately 651 voters in Precincts 4-1.