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Palm Coast Voter to City Council: “Reducing Voting Locations Is Insane”

| March 13, 2011

Dinged up democracy (© colster)

Steven Jones, a Palm Coast resident and voter since 1984, addressed the following letter to the Palm Coast City Council over the council’s decision, likely to be ratified at its March 15 meeting, to reduce polling locations in the upcoming November municipal election from 21 to six. For details on the matter, see the story here.

By Steven Jones

I express to you my extreme disappointment in the action you have taken to reduce the number of locations in which residents of Palm Coast can vote on election day this year. When the city was incorporated, the number of voting locations was greater than six and registered voters had the ability to go to a nearby voting location.

Steven Jones

The idea of reducing the voting locations from 21 down to six will condense the voting districts into a lower number of voting locations on election day. This will result in a lower number of voters actually being able to cast their votes. You may say that most people now vote in advance of the official election day. However, the issue is that voters must be provided with a voting location near their residences to ensure that they will make every effort to vote and do what each of our residents must do, decide who will represent them on the City Council.

Palm Coast was developed as a retirement community and continues to be one today. The idea of reducing the voting locations is insane.

After the city was initially formed, the city clerk was in charge of elections and for a period of time, decided to have the elections in the city, managed by the city. The Flagler County Supervisor of Elections was required to follow state law and ensure that the city followed what it was required to do properly. As the city started to grow, it chose to contract with the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections to manage the elections for the city. One of the early issues was that the supervisor of elections’ office was not within the Palm Coast’s state-certified boundary. Therefore, there was legal question of whether anyone could actually vote in the Flagler County Election Supervisor’s office per state statute. This issue was raised by Peggy Border, the supervisor of elections at the time.

The Live Commentary

It is obvious that the mayor and city council did not review previous voting history management before making a disruptive decision for our residents. Palm Coast needs to be a supportive city for all of its residents, allowing us to move forward as a progressive city not a regressive city.

Councilman Holsey Moorman has made an intelligent decision in response to the concerns of many residents by his willingness to discuss changing the pre-voting location from the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections office in Bunnell to the Community Center in Palm Coast on Club House Drive and Palm Coast Parkway. Numerous voting residents believe that the mayor and city council, as responsible elected officials, must reconsider their decision to remove voting locations and reinstate the 21 polling locations for our community to ensure the possibility of being able to vote on election day locally. Numerous voting residents require that the mayor and city council make the proper decision and change the location of the pre-voting location from Bunnell to Palm Coast. Remember, this is a City of Palm Coast election, not a county election or a City of Bunnell election.

I have been a Palm Coast resident since 1984 and have never been more than half a mile from my voting poll location since the city was incorporated in 1999.

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17 Responses for “Palm Coast Voter to City Council: “Reducing Voting Locations Is Insane””

  1. PC MAN says:

    If you can get in your Buick Century and drive clear across town to get to Wal Mart, the golf course or the early bird specials it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to drive more than mile to vote.

  2. kmedley says:

    I sympathize with the frustration and understand the concerns raised by Mr. Jones. However, if Mr. Jones had been present during the last negotiations, with the City and the Supervisor of Elections, for the elections scheduled in 2009, he would understand the city’s position. At that time, the SOE saw the city elections as an opportunity to charge the city for numerous maintenance costs associated with the voting machines. She looked to charge the city for battery costs, paper costs and an array of other costs that were not specific to the city election. Her dealings with the city manager, assistant city manager and city clerk were quite rude and at one time, Mr. Landon stood up to leave the meeting. If you were to ask me to describe her, then confrontational would be an understatement. In my opinion, she has little regard for the City of Palm Coast and believes the city wishes to control the county and destroy the rural part of the county. Little courtesy was demonstrated by the SOE. Fortunately for the City of Palm Coast, elections did not take place. Later that year, all county residents witnessed firsthand the exorbitant costs the SOE presented to the County for the Special Election. I do agree with Mr. Moorman in that if early voting is to be held, it should be done at a location in Palm Coast. It’s usually held at the library, unless it’s unavailable and there are limits placed on the SOE by the statutes as to where early voting may be held. Quite honestly the reduction of polling locations for a city election makes sense and cents, given the voter turnout and the SOE’s propensity to overcharge.

  3. Ralph Belcher says:

    Could be a cost savings. Perhaps this was the impetus for reducing the number of voting stations?
    There have been angry mobs in the Council Chambers imploring the Palm Coast City Council to cut overhead. It’s tough having it both ways.

    I understand this takes you out of your comfort zone.

    I get out of my comfort zone just to get gasoline or a gallon of milk with the few and between commercial zones. But, I take it for what it is.

  4. Dorothea says:

    Question for Mr. Jones.

    If tthe city holds its elections on even years only, does the city council still intend to reduce the number of polling places? Doesn’t make sense if voters have to vote in two different places on election day. I can see the confusion at the polls now. A big voter turnout (relatively speaking) for the 1012 Presidential elections would create a fiasco of major proportions if council member terms are reduced to three years. Nor can you reduce the overall districts from 21 to six for general elections given the enormous number of people in each of the proposed six districts.

  5. palmcoaster says:

    I agree with having the community center in Palm Coast for early voting. I also agree with the reduction of polling places to save money. The one thing I do not agree with, is saving money in polling places but wasting fortunes on this Coquina Desalt Plant meetings and their paid “consultants”. If we are going to cut we need to cut across the board and really avoid waste in all.

  6. elaygee says:

    Do we need to come to your house and carry you to a voting place? You seem to make it to the early bird well enough.

  7. kmedley says:

    palmcoaster – The PC Community Center cannot be designated as an early voting location. Florida Statute 101.657 is very specific with where early voting may be held. The Palm Coast City Hall or the Flagler County Library, at Belle Terre and PC Parkway, are the only two locations, besides the SOE Office in Bunnell that can be used. One of the many reasons the City is changing its charter in order to hold elections on even years is so the brunt of the elections’ costs are incurred by the county. With a county or statewide election, all precincts are open and all early voting locations are open too. I think the city would be responsible for its portion of the ballot that pertains to city elections. I’d have to look this up in the statute to be sure. But the overall cost would fall to the county.

  8. palmcoaster says:

    Kmedley I suspect that you work for the supervisor of elections or are familiar with the Florida law to this regards. I am surprised that Palm Coast suggested that location, if so, knowingly. In that case The City Hall or the Library will be better for early voting than having to drive to 100 for those that do not want to vote absentee, by mail. Regarding voters long lines because of less polling places, that can be resolved by placing more poll workers and voting booths on those fewer polling places thru out the city. Thank you for your input.

  9. Dorothea says:

    How would you divide up the precincts in various buildings around the city? Are there six building large enough to accomodate 4 or 5 precincts and the resulting long lines at 7 pm when the polls close? There’s a big difference between polling places and individual precincts.

  10. kmedley says:

    palmcoaster – Yes, I did work for the SOE, from February 2009 to August 2009. I remember the negotiations with the City of Palm Coast officials most vividly. I suspect that those meetings are in part the reason the city has decided to amend their charter and move to the even numbered years for elections. It will save the city money. I am not sure if the reduced polling locations will remain in effect or if all polling locations will be open. I suspect they would all be open for a general election. It’s the primary I would be concerned with, especially since Florida moved its primary voting date for Presidential elections. FYI, there was not any early voting for the recent Flagler Beach and Bunnell elections. Also, if you look at the recent county wide voter turnout and where some polling locations are positioned, the county could combine a few of these locations for more cost savings. I do agree with you that either City Hall or the library would be a better choice. Additionally, by not having Early Voting at the SOE’s office, the City could control the time period for early voting. The statute does not require the city to follow the time frame set forth in 101.657(d).

  11. Justice for All says:

    I concur with Steve Jones’s assessment. The precinct that I vote in gets a good turnout because it is convenient, we all know each other, and although we may not agree on issues, we all feel like we did our civic duty. The City continues to dismantle things that foster interaction. That small town feeling is slipping away.

    Perhaps the other question to ask is how Peggy Rae Border was able to provide great service on her budget.

    I’ve also tried to find out where the six locations are. Anybody been able to locate that on any web site?!

  12. Sharon says:

    Kmedley stated she had a very short career with the Supervisor of Elections office. After reading her posts, it’s clear as to why her employment was only 6 months.

    The Supervisor of Elections office has conducted many successful elections without her. What is employment for Kmedley now?

  13. kmedley says:

    Justice for All – Here’s the information you are seeking:

    The Interlocal Agreement for Election Services was a topic for discussion on the February 1, 2011 City Agenda for the 2011 Palm Coast Elections. The City has made changes to the Interlocal Agreement which have been adopted by the city council. Here are a few excerpts:

    22. City of Palm Coast Council has elected to hold mass voting locations for the 2011 City elections. The Council has chosen the following six (6) locations:
    Flagler County Library, Palm Coast Community Center, Belle Terre Elementary School, Wadsworth Elementary School, Matanzas High School and Flagler County Schools Building.

    23. The City will aggressively advertise mass polling sites for their municipal elections. For example, advertise in the newspaper, websites, City offices, and possibly in City utility bills.

    24. City of Palm Coast has elected to conduct Early Voting at one location – Flagler County Elections Office, for Primary and General Elections.

    The full document may be viewed by clicking:…-01_Agenda.pdf

    And scrolling down to item 6 SOE IA 2011 Track changes.

    In addition, there will be changes proposed on the ballot for future city elections:…01_Results.pdf

  14. kmedley says:

    Sharon – Thank you for your concern. I’m in a better place now. I’ve always believed when God closes a door He opens a window. He opened a huge window for me and the sunlight that comes through everyday is worth all of the hostility I and others endured while employed by the current SOE. Do you have any thoughts with regards to the election proposals put forth by the City?

  15. karen says:

    I am sure if you follow Kmedley’s posts here and on other blogs, you can image why she is most likely unemployed today, and is simply enjoying the view from a window. As you have already recognized, the current staff at the elections office is doing a great job conducting elections (without Kmedley). Every time I have been in the office I have been treated very nice and the service has been professional; the atmosphere is far from hostile. I believe Kmedley has a chip on her shoulder, and an ax to grind. I am like you, I pay no attention to ones opinion-I only am interested in facts.

  16. tjm says:

    First of all. If you want to save money eliminate the early voting Bull crap. If you want to vote. GO TO THE POLLS ON ELECTION DAY. Then keep the locations there so they can handle the voting.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you, for honest information about the Media war on Weeks, all I see in the media is slamming Weeks as the evil one. Now I see what it is all about. The media will not present all the facts indoctronating the public.

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