THOMASVILLE — Several Thomas County polling places will be consolidated or moved to meet a state voting process mandate.
"Some polling places are no longer adequate to conduct elections," said Frank Scoggins, Thomas County elections supervisor.
The statewide election changes were initiated by House Bill 316 and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019.
The state election mandate tripled the number of voting machines and doubled the number of poll workers required at each polling place, Scoggins said.
The Georgia secretary of state has imposed new security regulations to protect voting machines. Local schools have upgraded security measures for child safety that restrict voter access in some polling places.
Harper, Jerger, Scott and Resource Center polling places will be relocated to Thomas County Public Library, 201 N. Madison St.
The Ellabelle polling place will be relocated to Little Ochlocknee Baptist Church, 7856 Ga. 188; Merrillville to Coolidge City Hall, 3065 S. Pine St.; and Patten to Pavo City Hall, 1010 W. Harris St.
Scoggins said some Thomas County polling places will not pass state inspection. Electrical, space, handicap accessibility and security needs must be met, he added.
"We have all this equipment. We must have security around the clock with these machines," Scoggins said. "The state has mandated this."
Polling places in Thomas County's smaller municipalities will remain the same.
When advised of the proposed changes, county commissioners requested public notification prior to the final decision to allow time for community input and comment.
“The election changes we are facing are due to the new voting process mandated by the state of Georgia," said commission Chairman Wiley Grady. "We encourage early voting to avoid long lines and delays on election day."
Scoggins also encourages early voting. More than 70 percent of voters cast early and absentee ballots in the 2016 presidential election, he said.
The Thomas County Board of Elections and Registration has until Jan. 24 to notify the state of relocation of polling places.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820