Courts of Praise Church, Shepherds Gate Church, Washington County Recycling Center, and Country Oaks voting precincts will not be in operation for the next election cycle.

CHIPLEY – In a 4-1 vote Wednesday, Washington County Commissioners approved the closure of four of the county’s 16 voting precincts.

The proposal has been a topic of discussion for several months between the board and the Supervisor of Elections Carol Rudd.

Rudd made the recommendation in November to close polling sites located at Courts of Praise Church, Shepherds Gate Church, Washington County Recycling Center, and Country Oaks, but the measure was tabled, pending clarification on line items within the election office budget.

Rudd reports the sites have "very low" polling numbers and are therefore not cost effective. Approximately 50 percent of Washington County voters have cast ballots through early voting or voting by mail in recent elections.

Commissioner Alan T. Bush was the sole vote against the closures.

"We had initially passed a budget that included buying new voting equipment that did not involved closing any precincts," said Bush. "With the amount of budget increases the Supervisor of Elections office has had over the last several years, I feel the new equipment could have been purchased without any impact to the voting public."

The board voted unanimously to update the voting equipment.

The new voting equipment could mean faster reporting time for the remaining precincts, giving the added capability for election results to be transmitted directly to the Supervisor of Elections office.

The purchase of the new equipment and consolidation of precincts is projected to save the county about $66,412.47 over the next five years.