A group of Kayjay residents brought their voting concerns to the Knox County Board of Elections Thursday.
Now, they will take those same concerns to the Knox County Fiscal Court.
County Clerk Mike Corey said a group of about six residents told the elections board that they would like to have their voting location moved back to Kayjay.
He noted that the Kayjay flood of 2011 heavily damaged a building at the Kayjay Park that was used as a voting location, adding that the flood destroyed the building, ballfields, and other facilities at the park.
Since then, many of the 395 registered voters from the community have driven eight miles to a temporary voting location at the Artemus Fire Department.
Corey said that in the years since the flood, the Elections Board has explored several options in finding a suitable voting location that meets criteria mandated by the Help America Vote Act – better known simply as HAVA.
He noted that under the HAVA criteria, voting places must be handicapped-accessible, have phone access, and must have an area paved so that voters in wheelchairs can easily access the facility.
“It has to have a wheelchair ramp that meets their slope requirements,” Corey explained.
On the issue of phone service, Corey said that cell phone service is allowed. “But there is no cell service in Kayjay.”
Corey said his first possibility was at local churches.
“There are three churches up there. I have talked to all three churches,” he said, adding that he even visited one of the churches for a service during which he talked to church members about possibly using the church for voting. However, after talking it over the church members chose not to open the church for voting.
Corey said that once he finds a suitable location, he is required to have a Handicapped Accessible Survey performed by a person specially trained to complete the survey.
“We don’t have any of those persons in Knox County. The person I get is from Clay County. He is in a wheelchair. He has a handicapped-accessible van. He comes to that precinct and has to sign off that everything meets his criteria,” Corey noted. “I have to have a survey on file for every precinct in Knox County.”
During the meeting, Corey suggested that the group talk with Fiscal Court members about repairing the voting facility at the Kayjay Park.
“We have no jurisdiction with county funds,” he said.
Corey said a large garage that meets the HAVA criteria could be used for voting, even if it is privately-owned. “We are required to pay $100 fee for rent for any facility we use,” he said. “You would have to have ample parking.”
According to the Knox County Judge-Executive’s office, the citizens are on the agenda for the next Fiscal Court meeting set for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 26.