The Columbia Disabilities Commission and the city administration will now provide free transportation for some disabled and elderly voters after the Boone County Clerk’s decision to close two polling stations at Paquin and Oak Towers in downtown Columbia.
Chuck Graham, chair of the Columbia Disabilities Commission, says the rides will cost the city $38 each direction.
Graham said the goal is to make voting more accessible for residents of Paquin and Oak Towers.
“They weren’t very happy about it,” Graham said. “Those have always been polling places. All of this could have been easily avoided by just not moving the two polling places.”
Graham said part of the problem is that there is not sidewalk access connecting Oak Tower to other close polling stations.
Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks said he closed the polling stations because of low voter turnout and to decrease election costs.
“The goal is to reduce election costs so we’re not spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an election,” Burks said.
Total election costs are run after the election, so Burks will not know what the savings are until after Election Day on April 3. In the past elections, polling stations have cost the city around $200,000.
Burks said he has apologized to residents and will re-open these polling stations for elections this August and November. He will speak with Oak Tower residents on Monday.