Fri10242014

Last updateWed, 22 Oct 2014 11am

Back You are here: News News

Gilmer ISD taxpayers forced to drive to Gilmer to vote

No more GISD polling places outside Gilmer

BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS

GILMER--The Gilmer School Board last week approved confining all election-day voting in the May 10 board election to Gilmer High School, thus discontinuing having additional polling places in East Mountain and Ewell.

In calling the election for three board seats now held by Todd Tefteller, Gloria King, and Mark Skinner, the board on Jan. 21 also approved continuing to hold early voting at the school administration building. School Supt. Rick Albritton said the reduction from four overall polling places (counting the administration building) to two would reduce election-day expenses by half.

Albritton said he recommended the change partly because the Upshur County Clerk's Office refused to continue assisting with the trustee election, meaning "our election costs are fixing to triple" if the board continued using multiple polling places.

That's because the school must contract with Hart Intercivic to program the machines, which Deputy County Clerk Gregg Dodson had been doing, Albritton indicated. The superintendent told The Mirror the school's estimated total cost of holding the election would have been about $10,000 instead of the usual $3,500 if GISD continued using multiple balloting sites on election day.

Hart will charge $6,200 to provide services, and reducing the number of polling places means the school will expend only $1,750 of the $3,500 for election expenses it normally bears (such as election judges and printing ballots), Albritton told the newspaper. Last year, he added, the county charged $443 for assisting with the City of Gilmer municipal election and the school election combined, and the city reimbursed the school $191.63 of that. 

Albritton also told the board that having multiple voting locations on election day caused a "lot of confusion" over where to vote, and that someone who goes to the wrong polling place may give up and not vote at all. "We're trying to make it simpler," he said, noting only 10 or 15 percent of registered voters participate in GISD board elections.

The board approved contracting with the City of Gilmer for holding the election. If either entity cancels its election (as allowed by state law when there are no contested races), the other entity bears all the election costs, said GISD Secretary Judy Moore, who has overseen early voting for some years.

Early voting in the school election is set April 28-May 6. Candidates file between Jan. 29 and Feb. 28.