Residents of the KayJay area crowded into the Fiscal Court meeting room Monday to ask that their voting precinct be rebuilt.
Tara Baker, who spoke on behalf of the residents, said, “We are on the agenda to get our voting precinct back. It was destroyed by the flood. We have a petition that was signed by over 200 community members.”
Baker also presented the court with photos of the building where the voting precinct was located.
Since the June 2011 flood, which destroyed facilities at the KayJay park, including the building used for voting, residents of the area have had to drive about 9 miles or more to Artemus to vote.
“We also have some estimates of how much it would cost to restore the electric,” she said, adding that they have been in communication with KU, who has agreed to set a new service pole.
One of the two bids was for $1,800 and the other for $1,500, Judge J.M. Hall noted.
Baker said she feels that the park, including the voting building, should already have been fixed.
“I feel like if it was another park, it would have already been taken care. It has been three and a half years and it should have already been done,” Baker said.
Hall said one of the reasons that the park has not been fixed back is due to problems with vandalism. “All of our parks do,” he said.
“It was not vandalized for eight years until it was left open after the flood,” Baker said.
Magistrate Jerry “Rabbit” Cox, who represents the KayJay area, said that he stopped one day and vandals had destroyed the bathroom facilities in the building.
The residents say that not having a voting precinct close by has hampered many people from voting.
“I have not voted one time since it was closed,” one resident said.
Hall then made an offer to get the problem resolved.
“If you can get it done for $1,500, I will write you a check out of my personal account. You all can oversee doing that. If you all will take this upon yourself and do it…,” he said. “I will write it to L&M Electric, if you all will put for the effort to clean this up, and help take care of it.”
Hall said the county will help mow the park.
Once the voting building is renovated, the County Board of Elections will have to take action to formally move the voting precinct back to KayJay, pending the results of a handicapped-accessible survey.