Courtland Precinct polling place moves to Ruritan Club

Published 8:03 am Thursday, February 23, 2023

Voters in the Courtland Precinct will now go to the Courtland Ruritan Club to cast their ballots for general and special elections. The club building is located at 26484 Old Plank Road.

The change in polling place from the Courtland Volunteer Fire Department to the Courtland Ruritan Club building became official Jan. 24 after a unanimous vote from the Southampton County Board of Supervisors.

The vote followed a public hearing on the matter during which no one from the public spoke.

Other polling place changes are happening in Southampton County due to the county’s recent redistricting, but this Courtland Precinct polling place change was different because it came about after the relevant ordinance was written.

The Board of Supervisors voted Dec. 20 to authorize a public hearing on the move after the fire department made known to the county’s voter registrar office June 27 that it wanted to disband the use of its facility as a polling place after the November 2022 election.

Southampton County Administrator Brian S. Thrower contacted the fire department to learn why it wanted this change after many years of serving as a polling place.

“The primary purpose of the fire department is to fight fire, so it’s just more of an inconvenience to have an election there when their building’s primary purpose is associated with fire fighting,” he said. “That’s kind of the primary reason.”

At the Jan. 24 meeting, Jerusalem District Supervisor and Board Chair Dr. Alan W. Edwards said that Southampton County Director of Elections Lynn Burgess had searched for another polling place, and the Courtland Ruritan Club had agreed to become that place for the Courtland Precinct.

Edwards invited Burgess to speak on the matter just prior to the public hearing.

She came forward and said, “I’m here representing the Southampton County Electoral Board tonight, and the board wishes to express their full support in the moving of the Courtland Precinct polling location from the fire department to the Ruritan building. 

“This will provide adequate parking area for the 1,000-plus voters, as well as an adequate place for campaigners to set up beyond the 40-foot restricted area,” she said. “It will also provide adequate square footage in the building for our offices of elections to set up for (the) Election Day voting process.

“The members of the Ruritan Club have embraced the opportunity to serve the community,” she added. “The Electoral Board would like to extend their gratitude to the members of the Ruritan Club for opening their doors to the community, sharing in the common goal of service to the people.”

Edwards added, “We’re certainly indebted to the Courtland Ruritan Club for stepping up to the plate here, and I think that is a much better location.”

Following the public hearing, there was no board discussion prior to its 7-0 vote to enact the ordinance amending Section 5-16 of the county code.

The amended ordinance reflects the change in polling location for the Courtland Precinct, which is within the county’s Central Election District. 

The amended ordinance also reflects the change in name of one of the precincts in the county’s Southwest Election District. Branchville was added to the precinct name to make it the Boykins-Branchville Precinct.