By Nicole Jones
Record crowds and resulting complaints and issues at City Hall during the last election day have City Council considering a better approach next time.
“It was an impressive turnout,” Mayor Mike Foreman said during the council’s meeting to canvass results of the Nov. 5 bond election. “Seeing the slow trickle during early voting, I thought we might have maybe 1,200 people (on Election Day). We ended up with close to 1,600 who came out and voted.”
But filling an already busy City Hall with 1,600 voters in one day proved challenging.
Councilman Steve Rockey described a friend with mobility issues who reported being told he couldn’t use the elevator.
“He went back and tried to stand in line, but then went home,” Rockey said. “I think the (holding voting) upstairs is a problem.”
“City Hall was overwhelmed from an operational standpoint, as well as from a life-safety standpoint,” City Manager Morad Kabiri confirmed to the council. “I took an ADA complaint from a resident who was unable to navigate the barricades that were established. We had another citizen faint as she made her way up the stairs — she did not want to take the elevator and got overheated when she was upstairs.”
Kabiri asked the council if they were willing to locate future elections to another location, “that doesn’t have safety concerns as well as doesn’t have operational impacts,” suggesting the old junior high as a possible location.
Foreman said he would be on board.
“I would like to move the voting out of City Hall,” he said. “The only reason we vote at City Hall is because we have always voted at City Hall. It really handcuffs this building for two weeks, then on Election day you can’t even turn around in this building for the lines of people waiting to vote.”
He also supported the old junior high location as a possibility.
“There’s plenty of parking over there,” he said. “And they don’t have to climb stairs.”