NEWTON, GA (WALB) - Baker County Election Board leaders said Hurricane Michael destroyed the county’s oldest voting precinct, forcing voters to cast their ballots at a new facility.
Newton leaders said although the historic building is damaged, it should not stop residents from voting at the polls.
What used to be a place of voting for many years, is now roped off with caution tape after Hurricane Michael left it in shambles.
“The courthouse was built in 1903 but as long as I can remember, this has been a voting precinct,” said Cindy Summerlin, a committee member of the Baker County Elections Board.
Summerlin said the old historic courthouse in Newton is where 1,000 of the city’s 2,300 registered voters have cast their ballots for over 100 years, but the storm changed it all.
“The damage that I see is from outside. I think there were some people who did go inside and determined it was not safe for voting and people to go inside and try to vote,” explained Summerlin.
From busted windows, to broken bricks, one Newton resident said it breaks her heart to know she can’t vote there any longer.
“It’s so historic and there’s so much history there with it. To have it damaged and destroyed to where you can’t use it, is heartbreaking,” said Paige Parker, a resident.
Leaders said there will still be five voting precincts, and voters who cast their votes at the old historic courthouse can still exercise their right at Newton Baptist Church on Main Street.
“We want to be sure that everybody is aware of the change in location for all of the voters who use this precinct,” said Summerlin.
Although a portion of the historic building has broken into pieces like many other buildings in the county, residents said it should not stop anyone from voting.
“Exercise your right to get out and voice your opinion and make a difference. Just because the place was damaged doesn’t mean that there isn’t somewhere else to go,” said Parker.
Baker County election leaders said no additional forms are required to vote at Newton Baptist Church. All you have to do is show up on Election Day ready to vote between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.