Barton County polling locations cut in half

Kansas

Election Day is getting closer, but there is a disagreement popping up in Barton County. 

Election officials are cutting the number of polling places almost in half.

Like in many small towns, Rodney Cushenbery said he looks forward to chatting with his neighbors at the Albert Co-Op.

It’s a place where they exchange stories and the latest gossip in town.

However, this morning’s conversation was one that didn’t sit well with everyone.

“Makes everybody mad,” Cushenbery said. “How they closed this down. We don’t have our voting booth anymore.” 

Barton County officials announced they are cutting the number of polling places from 23 to 11, making some voters have to drive up to 18 miles to vote.

“We got older people, and they don’t like to go away or drive that much,” he said. “I think a lot of people in this town won’t be driving out to the polls this year, which is sad.”

But Election Officer Donna Zimmerman said this cut is something they hope will help the county in the long run. 

“We’re looking at buying new equipment,” she said. “So, we’re trying to balance cost savings and the burden of the taxes on the taxpayer vs. the services that we provide.”

She said this consolidation will also help with their struggle of staffing people and make the voting process more efficient. 

She said it was a tough decision, but one that’s long overdue.

“I come from a small community growing up,” Zimmerman said. “You hate to lose your grocery store, school district, post office and now voting. And I suppose, that’s why I drug my feet for so long. It’s a really hard decision.” 

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