Many county residents will stay home on Election Day next month, but it’s not by choice. They don’t have anything to vote for.
Due to limited ballot measures and noncompetitive races, four of the nearly 70 Franklin County polling places won’t even be open Tuesday, April 2.
According to the county clerk’s office, polling places located at the Beaufort Lions Club, St. Joseph’s (Neier) Parish Hall, Spring Bluff R-15 School and Union Fire Station No. 1 will not be open.
Those polling places serve residents living in the precincts of Beaufort/Lyon, Beaufort/Union-Pea Ridge, Jeffriesburg, Spring Bluff and Union Out of Town.
Since the residents in those areas live outside of city limits they are not eligible to vote in the April municipal elections.
Likewise, the school districts they live in have no issues on the ballot, so they have nothing to vote on.
Open But No Vote
There are also several polling places in which half of the residents of a precinct will have something to vote on and the other half of the registered voters will not, depending on where their residence lies in the precinct.
Residents living in the following precincts should note their polling place will be open, but they may not have anything to vote for.
• Clover Bottom West, Detmold/Jaegers Shop, Elmont/Japan, Gerald Out of Town, Gildehaus, Krakow, Leslie Out of Town, Lyon, Prairie Dell, Stanton & Dry Branch/Stanton, and Sullivan Out of Town.
According to the latest numbers from the county clerk’s office, there are 72,271 registered voters in the county, but only 64,858 are active.
County Clerk Tim Baker is hoping to raise those numbers with a series of focused voter registration drives at high schools in Franklin County.
“We’ve done two so far and we’d like to do more through this school year and into next,” Baker said. “The response has been great.”
Between an informational tour night at South Point Elementary and the clerk staff making themselves available at Washington High School during student lunch periods, 42 new voters in the Washington School District have been registered.
“It was phenomenal. There wasn’t any time we didn’t have all four seats at the table filled with people signing up at a time,” Baker said. “We’ve kind of focused on the younger, new registrants, but we handed out several forms for adults too.”
Baker explained anyone who is 17 1/2 can register to vote now, but must be 18 by Election Day to be eligible to vote on April 2.
He plans to continue the student voter drives at Union and New Haven high schools next and will visit Pacific and Sullivan soon as well.
“Even if they can’t vote in April, we will have them ready for the big one in 2020,” Baker said. “With the importance of that election and any other ballot initiatives that may arise we may see an increase in registrations as well.”
Baker added he is willing to visit individual classrooms and groups to demonstrate voting machines and answer any voting questions the public may have in efforts to register new voters and keep others informed.
Baker said last year before the controversial “Right-to-Work” vote, there was an influx of new voter registration in Franklin County, as well as registered voters updating their registrations.
In addition to registration changes, there are a few new rules for the upcoming elections Baker would like the voters to be aware of.
“If you have moved from one part of the county to another, you can vote at your new polling place,” Baker said.
Also new this year, the last day to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you is two weeks ahead of the election instead of just one. This deadline was changed by statewide legislation and the final date to request a ballot is March 20.
Currently, the clerk’s office has collected 138 completed absentee ballots and one person has voted early at the clerk’s office.