Local News

Voting precinct changes announced

— If you voted in 2012 at Restoration Center in Sebring, South Florida State College or the Venus Clubhouse, you’ll have new polling places this year.

Restoration Center has changed hands, Avon Park has annexed territory, and Venus Clubhouse is undergoing renovations, so that forced changes the county commission approved Tuesday.

Also, three polling places were outside their precincts, so Elections Supervisor Penny Ogg moved the boundaries.

Because of its central location, huge parking lot and handicapped spaces, Restoration Center was the polling place for 8,364 voters, Ogg said. Because 50 percent of voters cast early or absentee ballots, about 2,000 usually showed up on the busiest Election Days.

However, the late pastor contacted former elections supervisor Joe Campbell in 2012 and said that the church would be sold.

“We reached out to Bible Fellowship Church and First Baptist Church of Lake Josephine,” Ogg said.

Precinct 15 has been split. Most of the voters north of State Road 66 and a zig-zag boundary will stay in new Precinct 15; 2,718 on both sides of the state highway will move to new precinct 21.

“We tried to split it where could get the most bang for our buck,” Ogg said. “We also tried to do it so that it impacted the least number of voters.”

Most voters will be closer to their new polling places than Restoration Center, Ogg said. Precinct 15 will vote at 3750 Hammock Road; Precinct 21 will vote at 111 Lake Josephine Drive.

Old Precinct 21 was on the state college campus in Avon Park. However, after the college was annexed into the City of Avon Park, Ogg moved voters into Precinct 2N. They will now vote at the tax collector’s branch office, 116 E. Main.

Avon Park also annexed Crystal Lakes, southeast of the city. Those voters will move from Church of Christ on Sebring Parkway to 116 E. Main St.

Only 143 registered voters lived in the South Florida State College precinct, so that will save Ogg from hiring, training and staffing poll workers.

Areas north of Lake Byrd, Lake Brentwood and Stryker Road were also annexed. They will remain in the same precinct, but they will have an Avon Park ballot if a city candidate or issue is to be decided. Precincts 16 and 16A vote at Avon Park Lakes Clubhouse, 2714 Nautilus Drive.

Ogg’s office was notified last week that the Venus Clubhouse could be closed indefinitely. Venus United Methodist Church agreed to host voters, Ogg said. Precinct 14 will vote at 926 County Road 731.

The Elks Lodge on Kenilworth was located in Precinct 8, and it is now included in Precinct 7. Ballots will continue to be cast at 2618 Kenilworth Blvd.

Sebring Masonic Lodge was inside Precinct 8, and it has moved inside Precinct 10. Voters will continue cast ballots at 1809 Home Ave.

Bible Fellowship church was inside Precinct 24, it’s now in Precinct 15.

First Baptist Church of Lake Josephine is now in new Precinct 21.

Boundaries have been redefined at Spring Lake, but voters remain in Precinct 20 or 20N.

The last change — and the only one initiated by Ogg — was to draw a boundary to separate Sun N’ Lake voters from Tanglewood. Voters inside the Sun N’ Lake Boulevard-U.S.27-Granada Boulevard-Ponce De Leon Boulevard box are in Precinct 4D. They vote at Sun N’ Lake Community Center, 3500 Edgewater. The portion of Sun N’ Lake east of U.S. 27 votes at Precinct 25, Church of Christ, 3800 Sebring Parkway.

Voters with new polling places should receive new cards this month.

The Legislature has made two changes in the elections: in the past, voters with a different address than what is filed at the election office could request an absentee ballot over the phone; now, they must sign a written request for a ballot.

“Email is acceptable,” Ogg said.

Also, on Election Day, ballots will be accepted at supervisor of elections office only with an emergency affidavit.

A complete list of polling places is available at www.votehighlands.com. More info: 402-6655.