CONYERS — The Rockdale County Board of Elections is expected to hear at the June 13 meeting a recommendation to combine the Fieldstone and Flat Shoals voting precincts.
Elections Supervisor Cynthia Willingham told the board at its May meeting that Fieldstone will no longer be able to use Conyers Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Old Salem Road as a voting precinct. She said that low voter turnout on election days at both Fieldstone and Flat Shoals is costing the county money, as each voting precinct in the county costs $13,000 a day for elections. She suggested that Fieldstone and Flat Shoals be combined into one precinct, with Conyers Church of Christ at 1410 Flat Shoals Road being the voting location.
Fieldstone has a total of 6,708 registered voters, and Flat Shoals has a total of 3,629. While combining the two would seem to create the largest precinct, Willingham said board members need to take into consideration the actual number of voters who participate in the elections and the high number of early voters, rather than the total number of registered voters.
Willingham said, from 2014 to 2018, the majority of the voters in both precincts voted early.
“In 2018 for the general election, of the Fieldstone voters, 2,508 voted early, and 1,137 voted on Election Day, for a total of 3,645 voters out of the 6,708 registered voters,” said Willingham. “At the Flat Shoals Precinct, 1,653 voted early, and only 663 people voted at this precinct on Election Day, for a total of 2,316 voters out of 3,841 registered voters. That’s a very small percentage of voters voting on election day in this precinct, and last year was one of our higher election turnouts with the governor’s race.
“If we combine the precincts, it will give you a total of 10,337 voters in the precinct,” she said. “However, if you look at the combined voter turnout for both precincts together, we have 4,171 early voters and 1,800 voted on election day. If we combine both precincts, we have to remember that after the early voters, we have a very small percentage of voters remaining in each precinct.”
For some in the Fieldstone Precinct, it will be their second change in two years. Last year, the Salem Precinct was dissolved and voters were divided between the Fieldstone and St. Pius precincts.
Willingham said the board thought about moving some of the Fieldstone voters to St. Pius but said it would be a longer distance than from Flat Shoals and would take some of the voters past the Flat Shoals precinct.
“I don’t think the voters would be happy if we had them pass a precinct to get to another precinct,” Willingham said.
Board member Gerald Barger, who lives in the Saxony Drive subdivision off Ga. Highway 20, suggested his subdivision could be moved to St. Pius.
“You could move the voters in my subdivision from Flat Shoals to St. Pius,” Barger said, “because we can see St. Pius when we pull out to go to Flat Shoals to vote.”
Willingham said that was a possibility that they will study. Her staff will bring a recommendation to the Board of Elections at the June 13 meeting. If approved, Willingham asked that the Democrat and Republican parties each appoint a person to work on the committee that will start the process of changing the precincts.
“The new law from House Bill 315 requires that before we start changing precinct boundary lines, that we must notify the Secretary of State’s Office 30 days prior to the change,” she said, “and it has to be advertised in the county’s legal organ 30 days prior to the change.”