Although there was no formal action on the Supervisor of Elections Office move planned for Jacksonville’s City Council Tuesday night, there were plenty of people who came out to voice their concerns about the plans.
The current warehouse location at the Gateway mall is highly connected to public transportation. Many of those who came to speak at the council meeting use or know people who use that transportation to get to the Gateway location not just to vote, but do other elections-related activities, like train to work at polls.
The location that the office has been approved to move to does not offer the same connections, and is best accessed by car. Protesters tell me that the elderly who may not want to drive or the poor who can’t afford their own transportation would have great difficulty accessing One Imeson for that reason.
While Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland says he plans to keep Gateway as a polling location, there are some things that will not be able to run out of One Imeson. One of the biggest concerns led by Congresswoman Corrine Brown is for those who want to watch poll results come in during the evening to make sure their votes are counted. This happens at the warehouse location, and Brown claims that disenfranchises voters. Protesters here also say other area residents are suppressed because they may want to train to run polls.
During the meeting, Councilman Don Redman tried to draw a line on what exactly will be moved. He told protesters that only the warehouse element- storage for machines, etc – is what is moving. This brought some noise from the audience claiming they signed a petition that detailed more than that. Redman, backed by Council President Bill Gulliford, says they had nothing to do with the petition and couldn’t speak to it’s accuracy.
There is a lawsuit now pending by those who own the Gateway mall trying to halt the move, although those who run One Imeson believe that is just a larger platform they are using to complain about losing the bid. The move is favored by the Supervisor of Elections, however the Public Works Department had backed staying at the current location, mainly from a savings standpoint. Tuesday, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown allowed City Council’s vote to move to become law without his signature.