LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - More than 10,000 registered voters in Lawton will have new polling places once the next election rolls around.
Five polling places will be relocating, four of which will be moving from schools due to security concerns with Lawton Public Schools. The fifth is a church in Lawton that suffered significant damage in a storm earlier this summer, preventing them from staying a polling place.
The polling places at MacArthur Middle, Crosby Park, Almore West and Pioneer Park Elementary Schools are all in the process of relocating as Lawton Public Schools looks to address a few safety concerns with election day.
"Security measures are something we talk about every single year and enhancing the safety our students. A couple of years ago we implemented the Raptor system where visitors have to check in at the front office. Well on election days, that causes a lot of trouble for us. We can’t put them all through the Raptor, it would take us hours to get everyone signed in,” said Lynn Cordes, Executive Director of Communications for Lawton Public Schools.
Cordes said election days force them to take staff members away from their usual duties to ensure everything is running smoothly at the polls. It also negatively impacts parking at the schools as people show up to vote throughout the entire day. Three of the five polling places already have new locations. Those who used to vote at MacArthur Middle School will now go to Trinity Assembly of God on Southeast 45th just South of Gore Boulevard. Those from Pioneer Park will now vote at Abundant Life Christian Church on Northwest Woodridge just South of Rogers Lane. Those from Almore West will now vote at Bible Baptist Church at Northwest 75th and Lee.
A new polling place has not yet been found for those who currently vote at Crosby Park. A polling place at Lawton Heights United Methodist Church will also be moving after the church was damaged during a storm. But no new place has been found for that either.
While they look for those new polling places, Election Board Secretary Amy Sims said they are also in the process of notifying all 10,189 voters who live in those areas of what’s going on, which will cost the election board more than $5,000. "We’ll be sending out letters and cards. That takes a lot of money and a lot of time so just be patient. If you don’t know where your polling place is just give us a call,” Sims said.
Cordes said they are thankful to the election board for being so accommodating with the changes. As of right now, there are no elections scheduled at the five polling places through the end of the year. If you are interested in your church or business becoming a polling place, you can contact the election board.