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Jefferson County Commission pursues opening additional early voting locations

By Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle | Jan 22, 2021

Jefferson County Commissioners are moving forward with potentially securing a secondary early voting location within the county. Currently, the Jefferson County Courthouse is the only early voting location. Toni Milbourne

CHARLES TOWN — In a special meeting on Jan. 15, the Jefferson County Commission had a discussion on adding an additional location for early voting in future elections. The talk was held after county voters waited sometimes more than two hours to early vote in the Nov. 2020 election.

“I think we need to start the process for another early voting location,” said JCC President Josh Compton.

Commissioner Steve Stolipher agreed, saying he had spoken with Chief Elections Clerk Nikki Painter and found there is a process involved.

“I asked Nikki when we should start looking at this and she said, now,” Stolipher told his fellow commissioners.

A formal motion was made by Commissioner Tricia Jackson to begin exploring the alternatives for adding an additional voting location. Currently, all early voting must be held at the courthouse, which led to long lines in November.

Jane Tabb also voiced agreement in moving forward, pointing out that one of the biggest issues will be where to designate another location.

“We need to study where most people vote, “and determine a location far enough away from downtown Charles Town,” Tabb said.

Commission members reported that in conversations with members of the Republican and Democrat executive committees, both parties agree that another location would be beneficial.

County administrator Stephanie Grove pointed out to the JCC that consideration must be taken in the upcoming budget cycle, for additional costs that will be incurred with the addition of another voting location.

According to Grove, additional funds will have to be allocated for poll workers, bailiffs and potential rent for another location.

The vote to move ahead with exploring the addition of another early voting location was unanimous among the commissioners. Communication will be set up between Painter and the commission staff to determine the next step in the process and begin to vet potential locations.