Four polling places in Hanover could change by the next election.
Hanover’s Board of Supervisors agreed May 14 to hold a public hearing to potentially move precincts in four of the county’s seven magisterial districts —Chickahominy, Cold Harbor, South Anna and Beaverdam.
“Where we meet now is a fire station and it is pretty tough to get parking there, especially during large turnout elections,” said Aubrey “Bucky” Stanley, Beaverdam District supervisor.
Because of that, Stanley chose to follow through with County Registrar Teresa Smithson’s suggestion to move the polling place to the Doswell Ruritan Club.
In the Chickahominy District, the Shady Grove precinct, located in the cafeteria at Washington-Henry Elementary School, could move to the Northside Baptist Church.
“I want to make sure that we are thinking very carefully and if we move this again, that we are doing that thoughtfully and making sure everything is going to move as smoothly as possible going forward,” said Angela Kelly-Wiecek, the district’s supervisor.
Kelly-Wiecek recognizes that because the elementary school is the home of two polling places, the site gets hectic during big elections but she is weary of causing more confusion for voters. She will hold a community meeting to gather more input from citizens on the proposed relocation at 6:30 p.m. May 27 in the Washington-Henry Elementary School library.
In Cold Harbor, only one of the suggested relocations could occur. Supervisor Elton Wade said he spoke with voters and they are in favor of the Black Creek precinct moving from Black Creek Fire Station No. 12 to the fire station’s former site, the Black Creek Church, at 6229 McClellan Road.
One of the three proposed relocations for precincts in the South Anna District could become a reality. Supervisor Wayne T. Hazzard said the existing Farrington polling place, located at the Farrington Volunteer Fire Company Station 11, is dangerous and would like the precinct to relocate back to the former fire station site, Jessica Beath Clinic, which is privately owned.
But supervisors turned down seven of County Registrar Teresa Smithson’s suggestions for site changes for other polling locations in the area.
Wade did not support the registrar’s recommendation to move the precinct at Cold Harbor Elementary School to a local church.
“I’d like to keep Cold Harbor School just like it is,” he said during the board’s May 14 meeting.
In the Ashland District, there will not be any changes.
“I do not wish to move this precinct from fire station number 10 in the Hanover Industrial Park,” said Ed Via, the district’s supervisor.
Via said he spoke with voters and no one wanted the polling place to be relocated. The suggested location was the Kings Charter Clubhouse along Kings Charter Drive.
Likewise, no polling locations in the Henry District will be moved. Supervisor and Chairman Sean Davis said he would like to keep the Totopotomoy polling place at its existing location, Eastern Hanover Fire Station No. 3, and not relocate it to the proposed spot, which was a church.
Another recommendation, to move the polling place at Mechanicsville Elementary School to Mechanicsville Church of Christ, was also shot down. Supervisor W. Canova Peterson said he reached out to workers in the polling place who told him that there aren’t any huge issues with the precinct.
One of the suggestions in the Chickahominy District would’ve moved some of the voters at the Atlee High School to a local church. Smithson was concerned with the existing voter base outgrowing the high school polling place; however, 2,882 people cast their ballots there during the last presidential election, showing that voter turnout is still manageable at that location.
County Attorney Sterling Rives said that 4,000 people have to vote for a precinct to be forced to move to a larger venue.
Though only a few of the county registrar’s recommendations are moving forward, citizens will still have an opportunity to provide input when the supervisors hold a public hearing in June.