FLINT TWP. — All township residents will vote at a new polling place in the August primary, November general election and beyond.
In a 6-1 vote Monday night, the township board approved a resolution for new polling locations that consolidated six former sites into only four. The changes are designed to better meet the needs of residents and to save mailing cost of new voter registration cards.
Under the new plan, voters in precincts 1, 2, 3,, 4 and 10 will vote at the West Flint Church of the Nazarene, 2254 S. Dye Road. Previously, the Flint Township hall was the polling place for precincts 1 and 2 and Fire Station #1 was the voting site for precincts 3, 4 and 10.
The new polling site for precincts 6 and 11 will be the VFW Post 3087, 4138 Corunna Road. Those voters previously voted at the Flint Township Senior Center.
The new place to vote for precincts 5, 7, 8 an 9 is at Our Lady of Lebanon church, 4133 Calkins Road. It replaces the old site at Stalker School for voters in those precincts.
Voters in precincts 12, 13, 14 and 15 will now vote at the Central Church of the Nazarene, 1261 W, Bristol Road. It replaces polling sites at Fire Station No. 3 and Fenton Lawn School for voters in those precincts.
Besides fewer polling sites, the number of precincts also has been reduced by redistricting as a result of the 2010 Census count. Before the township had 20 precincts. Now it has 15. As a result, its seven polling sites were reduced to six before this latest change.
The proposed changes met some opposition from those present.
During public comment, resident Chuck Hughes, a candidate for township trustee, noted that several of the new polling sites are in Christian churches. As a Christian, he said, he does not have a problem with that but thought it might bother some non-Christians and non-churchgoing residents who will have to enter a church to vote.
Trustee Frank Kasle cast the lone opposing vote because he said he did not want to change the polling places during the important presidential election year. Kasle said he feared that some people will show up at the old place in August then go back home instead moving on to the new location, as directed
“I suggest we wait one more year to change the polling places and not do it in a critical year with a presidential election,” said Kasle, who added the township had a 65 percent voter turnout for the 2008 presidential election.
Courts said on election day there will be election workers stationed at the former polling places to redirect voters . She also said she will make every effort – using every communication resource possible including local media, signs and the township’s website – to notify registered voters of their new polling place.
Each registered voter will also receive a new voter registration card in the mail before the August 7 primary to notify them about this change, she said.
In her presentation, Courts said the new polling sites will eliminate problems at the old polling sites that have included inadequate parking, lack of handicap accessibility, disruptions of normal site activity such as meals at the senior citizens center and moving fire trucks outside at the fire stations. All new polling sites have agreed to a 10-year service plan, at no cost to the township, she said.
Most importantly, Courts said changing the polling places now will save the township approximately $4000 in mailing costs of new voter registration cards. New cards must be mailed this year due precinct changes. Waiting until next year to change the polling sites would cost another $4000 to mail new cards again to the township’s 24,000 registered voters.
“As elected officials, we have a fiduciary responsibility where taxpayers are concerned,’’ Courts said.
She said she realizes that people don’t’ like change but gives voters more credit for being adaptable.
“If they are a voter, they are going to vote … whether (the new site) is two blocks down the road or two miles down the road,’’ she said.