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Lipsey Precinct moving to rec department

One of the county’s 30 voting precincts is moving across the street, and north, just a little.

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors on Monday voted unanimously to relocate the Lipsey Precinct from its current location at Lipsey Middle School to the Brookhaven Recreation Department, at 689 Hwy. 51 North, which is just northeast of the school by around 400 yards. The City of Brookhaven already uses the recreation department as a voting place for city elections — the city has its own polling places for city elections — and the same voting bloc casts ballots in both locations, said Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield.

“This will actually be a good thing for voters because there will be less confusion,” he said.

Bairfield told supervisors the Brookhaven School District requested the precinct be moved because it interferes with the operation of the school. More than 460 city voters cast ballots at Lipsey last week for the Nov. 27 runoff election, and Bairfield said school officials are worried about the confusion the all-day foot traffic creates and the threat of unknown visitors to campus.

“With that kind of turnout, there’s a lot of people on campus. It’s kind of distracting to the students, and then you could have people walking around campus causing a security issue, too,” Bairfield said.

There are 787 registered voters at the Lipsey Precinct.

Bairfield said the precinct change would be submitted to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office for final approval, and letters informing Lipsey Precinct voters of the changed location would be mailed in January.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Lincoln County no longer requires pre-clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice to move polling places or make other changes to voting practices. The act was in place for years for Mississippi and other areas of the country where poll taxes, literacy tests and other measures were once in place to prevent blacks from voting.

One of the requirements was that precincts must be moved to another location within “seeing distance” of the existing polling place, Bairfield said — which wouldn’t have mattered Monday, as the recreation department is visible from Lipsey Middle School.

Lipsey will be the sixth polling place moved since Mississippi came out from under the Voting Rights Act’s restrictions.

The Montgomery Precinct moved down the road to Clear Branch Baptist Church earlier this year after some confusion — District 2 Supervisor Bobby Watts proposed the move, telling the board the building was unsafe, then the building’s owner protested the besmirching of her property. The church didn’t mind, the move stood and the board never discussed it again.   

The Brignal and Rogers Circle precincts merged last year and moved to the District 2 barn on Old Hwy. 51 after the buildings at both polling places fell into disrepair. The box at the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce moved to the Lincoln County Public Library in 2016 because the Chamber was not handicapped-accessible.

The Bogue Chitto precinct moved from Bogue Chitto Attendance Center across Hwy. 51 to the Bogue Chitto Volunteer Fire Department for the same reasons supervisors approved the Lipsey move. The Pearlhaven Precinct moved from the Ability Works building to the Bicentennial Building.