Residents raise concerns over polling placesPublished 10:59pm Saturday, July 21, 2012
Some Suffolk residents are concerned their new polling places may not be big enough to accommodate all the voters expected in November.
Suffolk’s voter registrar says she has heard the concerns and is working with election officials to make the process come off as smoothly as possible.
But, notes Registrar Susan Saunders, she’s also been telling those with concerns to call their City Council representatives.
“The City Council is the one that approved it,” she said.
With a 33-percent jump in population in the last decade and subsequent redistricting process, five new precincts were added, and the boundaries of all of them have changed. Many voters are likely to have a new polling place come November.
Concerns were raised at a Democratic committee meeting two weeks ago, according to several people who were at the meeting. In particular, Holland-area residents are concerned about voting at the Holland Volunteer Fire Department on O’Kelly Drive.
The station has been used as a polling place for years, but with 2,579 active voters, it now is the fifth-largest precinct in the expanded list.
The road is narrow, concerned voters point out, and there is little parking. It is near the busy U.S. Route 58. And unlike a school, the fire station cannot cease operating on Election Day.
With the first test of the new polling places set to come during a presidential election, Saunders and her staff are taking extensive planning measures. They have visited the new polling places to plan the most efficient flow of voters. Even established polling places could have a new configuration.
“A lot of thought has been put into the actual layout of each polling site,” she said. “We have addressed specific locations. We realize it’s going to be a very large turnout, and we want to make this as smooth as possible for everyone.”
To that end, Saunders is encouraging voters to verify their registration status, polling place and identification requirements well ahead of fall.
She encouraged anyone who needs information to call her office at 514-7750. Employees will be able to look up registration status and polling place and explain the new identification requirements to voters.
In addition, folks can check on their status and polling place on the State Board of Election’s website at www.sbe.virginia.gov.
The new identification requirements can be confusing, Saunders said. But the list of acceptable identifications actually has expanded. It now includes a voter registration card, Social Security card, driver’s license or other state-issued ID card, employee ID card, student ID card from a four-year institution within the state, current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck showing the voter’s name and address.
Following is the list of new polling places. Keep in mind the precinct where you reside may have changed.
- Belleharbour — Church of God/Saints of Christ, 4300 Judah Lane
- Driver — John Yeates Middle School, 4901 Bennetts Pasture Road
- Bennett’s Creek — Creekside Elementary School, 1000 Bennetts Creek Park Road
- Ebenezer — CE&H Ruritan House, 8881 Eclipse Drive
- Chuckatuck — Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Station, 300 Kings Highway
- King’s Fork — King’s Fork Middle School, 350 Kings Fork Road
- Hillpoint — Hillpoint Elementary, 1101 Hillpoint Road
- White Marsh — Greater First Baptist Church Orlando, 600 Factory St.
- John F. Kennedy — John F. Kennedy Middle School, 2325 E. Washington St.
- Nansemond River — Nansemond River High School, 3301 Nansemond Parkway
- Shoulders Hill — Union Baptist Church, 5414 Nansemond Parkway
- Airport — Suffolk Executive Airport, 1200 Gene Bolton Drive
- Whaleyville — Whaleyville Community Center, 6235 Whaleyville Blvd.
- Southside — Faith Temple Fellowship Center, 623 Brook Ave.
- Booker T. Washington — Booker T. Washington Elementary School, 204 Walnut St.
- Pittmantown — Corinth Chapel Church of Christ, 7945 Corinth Chapel Road
- Kilby’s Mill — Forest Glen Middle School, 200 Forest Glen Drive
- Holland — Holland Volunteer Fire Station, 6666 O’Kelly Drive
- Lake Cohoon — King’s Fork Community House, 1600 Kings Fork Road
- Lakeside — Morgan Memorial Library, 443 W. Washington St.
- Olde Towne — Salvation Army, 400 Bank St.
- Elephant’s Fork/Westhaven — Elephant’s Fork Elementary School, 2316 William Reid Drive
- Wilroy — Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School, 1253 Nansemond Parkway
- Hollywood — East Suffolk Recreation Center, 138 S. Sixth St.
- Harbour View — North Suffolk Public Safety Center, 3901 Bridge Road
- Burbage Grant — Northern Shores Elementary School, 6701 Respass Beach Road
- Huntersville — Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC), 1030 University Blvd.