If Henderson County gets state approval to go to the Vote Center method on election day, it will change the way many voters go to the polls. County officials are anxious to see how the change affects the turnout and if it has an impact on voting habits.
"You're not going to find that out in a Constitutional Amendment Election because the turnout is so low," Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin said.
The creation of voting Centers will allow voters to cast ballots at any of the 24 voting locations in the county. Elections Administrator Denise Hernandez said this will be convenient to voters who work in another part of the county from where they live, or for some reason can't be in their home precinct while the polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m..
Early voters have a choice of three locations in the county, in Athens, Chandler and Seven Points.
In the 2018 Gubernatorial Election, there were 26,969 votes cast. Of those, a wide majority, 16,232 were early votes. There were also 2,598 absentee ballots.
In most areas of the county, early voters dominated. But, in Precinct 4, it's a different story. In Berryville, 48 absentee ballots were recorded, only 122 voted early and 309 participated on election day. The Poynor vote was 99 early and 164 on election day.
In some other Precinct 4 locations, the vote was narrowly split between early and election day.
Moore Station had more election day than early votes, by an 118 to 104 margin. There were 24 absentee ballots. Coffee City had 101 absentee votes, 408 early votes and 398 election day ballots.
"If you look at the early vote in Larue/New York, it's low as well," Geeslin said. "They don't drive to Chandler or Athens."
The New York/Larue breakdown was 52 absentee, 274 early and 239 election day.
Large early vote totals were recorded in several county locations. The Chandler Community Center had 1,709 early votes to 533 votes on election day. Voters from that voting precinct benefitted from the early vote beign held at the same location.
"The vote centers will be adventageous, but that's only on election day," Geeslin said.
At one of the workshops in which Vote Centers were discussed Geeslin said, once they are established, he wants an early voting location in Precinct 4.
"I would propose it to be at the new Precinct 4 building," Geeslin said.
County officials plan to build a new Preinct 4 Justice of the Peace location in Larue.