Bartow voting office moves to JFH Parkway
by Jason Lowrey
Aug 17, 2014 | 1458 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Although boxes were stacked atop other boxes and receptionists were working on folding tables instead of desks Friday, the Bartow County Voter Registration and Elections Office was still working through its normal business after relocating.

Now based at 1300 Joe Frank Harris Parkway, the election office occupies what was once the old Georgia State Patrol barracks. The Department of Driver Services remains in the same location, but its operations have moved to a newly renovated area behind the main building.

The former barracks received a renovation as well, with three walls being removed in one section to make space for the election office’s shelves of voting machines.

Election Supervisor Joseph Kirk said his department moved to the new location after the county decided not to renovate its former Bartow Street building.

“There’s a few different problems with the building we were in,” Kirk said. “It’s a historic building. It’s a very old building. It was the original health department for the county, and over the years there have been issues with — the basement floods. There have been some other issues, like with trees that we were kind of concerned about next door with the pavement over them. Just stuff like that.

“They put money in the last [Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax] to renovate the building. Well, when they went and started actually looking at the project, it made more sense, I think, financially and logistically to start moving those departments out ... so eventually that building’s going to be vacant.”

The election office vacated both the Bartow Street office and its Elizabeth Street office, where votes were once counted and election results displayed for the public. The former DDS office at the front of the building will likely take over those roles, Kirk said, as it is easily accessible for the public. Though the department now has more space in one area, it is not as convenient as the open-floored Elizabeth Street location, Kirk believed.

“We have more space, storage space, [but] actual usable square footage is a little bit less. The problem we’ve run into is so much of what we do has to be accessible to the public and those things, all the critical functions, have to go downstairs. So there’s only a few things left that can go upstairs: a few offices, storage space and a lot of square footage is up here. So we’ll use this for election day supplies, that sort of thing. ... But anything critical has to be downstairs and that’s cut into our space,” he said.

Although the building itself presents challenges to organization, Kirk hoped to take advantage of being on U.S. Highway 41 and in a more accessible location for voters during their commutes.

“It feels good to have our own facility, and I think [it’s] going to serve the voters of the county better because, for example ... when it comes time for early voting, I’m hoping we can reach out to a lot of the folks in the northern part of the county, folks who didn’t want to drive all the way into downtown Cartersville to come vote early,” he said. “Maybe we can catch them as they’re coming into town anyway. It’ll be an easier trip for them.

“The folks who are used to coming into my [former] office, we’re still going to use the Cartersville Civic Center the week prior to the election. They’ll just get more business over there with that location, and then hopefully we’ll get new voters here.”

Aside from the physical address, the election office’s contact information has not changed. Early voting in the 2014 general election is scheduled to begin Oct. 13, while the general election itself is scheduled for Nov. 4.