News

Rockdale gets new polling places

First Baptist, Justice Center replace Fair Park, Sr. Citizens
By MIKE BROWN
Reporter Editor

Two of Rockdale’s three polling places will change for the 2012 primary and general elections, including one that’s been a voting site for a quarter century.

Milam County commissioners approved a recommendation by County Clerk Barbara Vansa Monday to change Rockdale Precinct 319’s polling place from the New Salem HD Clubhouse in Fair Park to the Family Life Center at First Baptist Church.

Vansa cited concerns about handicapped and senior citizen accessibility as the prime reasons for the change.

Also changing is the location for Rockdale Precinct 217, from the Rockdale Senior Citizens Center to the Rockdale Juvenile Justice Center.

Rockdale’s third polling place, the RVFD Fire Station, will remain the voting location for Precinct 318.

EARLY VOTING—Polling places in Milano and Thorndale are also changing.

Precinct 419 will change from the Milano Community Center to Milano First Baptist Church.

In Thorndale, residents of Precinct 420 will now cast ballots at Firemen’s Hall (Thorndale Recreation Center) instead of the Senior Citizens Center.

And three of the county’s four early voting locations are changing. Rockdale’s will now be at the Juvenile Justice Center.

NEW SALEM—The New Salem HD Clubhouse has been a polling place in Rockdale since 1986 but that era is ending.

“ There have been severa l access concerns expressed by voters about that location over the years,” Vansa said.

“It’s been about getting out of vehicles and getting in the building,” she said. “The streets aren’t paved, some voters have said the gravel is hard to walk on and it’s not a good location in wet weather.”

“Several elections ago there was a voter in a walker who really had a hard time getting into the building,” she said.

Vansa said the two-year- old FBC Family Life Center eliminated those concerns.

“It’s handicapped-friendly, with lots of handicapped parking, has plenty of sidewalks and ought to be a big improvement for senior citizens and the handicapped,” she said.

JUSTICE CENTER—Vansa said the move from the Senior Citizens Center to the Juvenile Justice Center on FM 487 also represents an upgrade.

“I told the commissioners if we had a facility like the justice center in every town in the county it would pretty much solve all our polling place concerns,” she said.

EARLY VOTING—Vansa said the goal in replacing three of the four early voting locations is to avoid having situations where the offices of persons on the ballot are being used as polling places.

In 2010, we had to change two early voting locations because of that issue, Vansa said. Traditional polling places were JP offices in Precincts 3 and 4 were incumbents Twila Harris and Gary Northcott were seeking re-election.

“And next year we could have a similar situation,” Vansa said. “ The Precinct 1 commissioner office in Buckholts has been an early voting site and that office is on the ballot in 2012.”

New early voting locations:

Rockdale—Juvenile Justice Center, change from Precinct 3 J-P Office.

Thorndale—Firemen’s Hall, change f rom Precinct 4 J- P Office.

Buckholts—Buckholts Community Center, change from Precinct 1 Commissioner Office.

The fourth location, the Milam County Clerk’s Office in Cameron, will remain.

All changes affect only party primary and general election balloting, which are separate from city, school district and hospital district elections.

VOTING CHANGES

• Precinct 207, Rockdale Senior Citizens Center to Rockdale Juvenile Justice Center.

• Precinct 317, Milano Community Center to Milano First Baptist Church.

• Precinct 419, New Salem HD Clubhouse in Fair Park to First Baptist Church Family Life Center.

• Precinct 420, Thorndale Senior Citizens Center to Thorndale Recreation Center (Firemen’s Hall).

• Early voting in Rockdale changes from Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace office to Rockdale Juvenile Justice Center.


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