Elmer residents up in arms over the loss of their voting precinct

Residents of Elmer are up in arms over the loss of their voting precinct and they are determined to get it back.

About a month ago, residents living in the rural small town received notification in the mail that their voting precinct was closing. They were told they would have to cast their vote in Atlanta, which is about a 20 mile roundtrip from their hometown.

On Thursday, residents met in the Chuckwagon Cafe to discuss what has happened and to form a committee that they say will seek possible solutions.

All of the residents present said they were not aware of any previous discussion regarding the closure of their voting precinct. Instead, they said they were first informed when they received a letter signed by the Macon County Clerk, Shirley Sims, stating the precinct was closing due to increasing costs and declining revenues along with federal accessibility and compliance concerns. Along with the letter, a new voter registration card was enclosed.

Residents said they need more information.

"There needs to be more discussion, more information given to us," said Lachelle Hatcher, an Elmer City Councilmember. "We need to see if there is a feasible way to work out an alternative that we could still keep our voting site here. It's going to be very hard for many of us to vote."

"We all have to make sacrifices in these lean times but we're not sure this one's appropriate," said Baxter Haley, a concerned Elmer precinct voter.

An Elmer City Councilmember said she's upset the city was not notified of the change beforehand. She said if the lack of funds was the main reason to close the precinct, she believes the city of Elmer could've pitched in to help.

"The city is, although very small, it's a very tight community and we usually always find a way to pay for things, if the community feels it's important," said Hatcher. "So, I think if given an opportunity to do so, we could find a solution to the problem and still maintain our voting precinct here."

KTVO spoke to the Macon County Clerk. She would not go on camera but she did say the state statute gives her the sole authority to close or consolidate precincts. She said she closed the Elmer precinct in order to cut costs and help balance the budget.

Sims said there are about 200 registered voters in the precinct. According to her, there have been elections in previous years where less than 20 people voted. In recent years, she said the most voters that have voted in a single election is 127.