Residents who plan to participate in the upcoming Daphne municipal elections in August may have to vote in a new place for a new councilperson after the City Council approved a redistricting plan and consolidated polling locations with a contested 4-3 vote March 21.
Instead of five separate voting locations throughout the city’s seven City Council districts, voters will now have just two places to cast their votes during the August 23 municipal election. Districts 1-5 will vote at the Daphne Civic Center, while the remaining two districts will vote at Daphne High School’s Trojan Hall.
In voting against the polling consolidation plan, Councilman John Lake said his objective was to make voting easier, not more difficult. He supported having one polling location in each district.
“I think it is important that we try to address the issue of people coming to the polls conveniently,” Lake said. “People who live in the southern part of Daphne, and a lot of the people who live in Park City used to be able to walk to the polls even if they didn’t have transportation. It would be quite a haul to walk to one of these two locations.”
Council President Pat Rudicell and Councilwoman Tommie Conaway also opposed the measure. Conaway said she preferred having just one polling location. Councilman Randy Fry said having two polling locations will put the city’s municipal election more in line with the way voters in the city vote in state and national elections.
“Even though it is not exact, having two polling locations is the closest option that will align us with state and national elections,” Fry said. “It is the most consistent option we have out there versus where people have to go vote in other elections.”
The City Council also approved a redistricting plan based on 2010 U.S. Census data, which showed a population of 21,727 in the city. The plan — developed by Carey Technology LLC — is intended to help the city more equitably distribute its population throughout its seven districts, reaching a goal of an average 3,104 in each district.
A redistricting vote had been scheduled for a City Council meeting in January, but councilors postponed the vote due to the concerns of some residents that the plan would disenfranchise minority voters in the Park City community. This week the City Council approved the plan with a 6-1 vote, with Lake casting the lone “no” vote.
While there had been some public opposition to the redistricting plan at many of the City Council’s previous public meetings, no one spoke against the plan during time allotted for public participation at this week’s meeting.