By Alyssa Schnugg
District 4 Supervisor Chad McLarty admits it took him an hour to vote Tuesday at the new precinct at the Lafayette Civic Center.
When he arrived at the precinct, he found chaos.
“The building is great,” he said. “It’s plenty big enough and has heat and air conditioning. The problem is the parking. People were parking everywhere.”
Local law enforcement was called in to help the traffic situation and McLarty stayed at the precinct to assist.
“Within 30 minutes they got the traffic under control,” he said. “Once we had the parking and traffic more organized and under control, things went much more smoothly in the afternoon.”
Around lunchtime, pedestrian guard rails were put in to help organize the lines of voters waiting to vote.
McLarty said he realizes there were several issues in the morning at the new precinct but he and his fellow supervisors are looking at ways to eradicate those issues for the run-off election on Nov. 27 and all future elections.
“We are going to talk to the owners of the Civic Center to see about expanding some parking,” he said. “We apologize to everyone who had to wait and stand in line and we are going to learn from this and move forward and make things better.”
The new precinct is located off Highway 6 West at 14 Tommie Collie Jane Road. McLarty said the new precinct might not be ideal, but it was the only place the supervisors could find after the University of Mississippi informed the county that the Jackson Avenue Center could no longer be used a precinct about 18 months ago.
“By state law, the precinct has to reside inside District 4,” McLarty said. “That limits us drastically. We talked to hotels but their conference rooms are small and you never know what the parking will be like. The Civic Center allowed us to use their building and we’re thankful to them for that.”
McLarty said he will also be speaking to the Election Commissioners on having more operating voting machines at the precinct.
“There were eight machines there but they could not get the cards coded to keep up so only two were being used,” he said. “We had people standing outside for a long time. I’m just glad it wasn’t raining.”
During the Oxford Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday evening, Mayor Robyn Tannehill said the city’s Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Allgood brought out a generator and large spotlight to help light up the dark parking lot at the Civic Center.