Manatee cuts polling locations, touts better convenience

By Summer Smith, Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, February 15, 2014, 11:40 AM EST

Manatee County voters will have 30 fewer locations to cast their ballots.

This week, Manatee County Commissioners approved to cut the number of polling precincts from 99 to 69.

Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett said he decided to close down some of the precincts because low voter turnout after noticing they had a lack of parking and did not meet ADA requirements.

Bennett said despite losing some spots, they’re opening up new precincts around the county in more centralized areas.

The new precincts will be going in at Renaissance on 9th, the Bradenton Area Convention Center, Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, IMG Academy and Mount Raymond Baptist Church in Palmetto.

He has also added several early voting sites.

“One of the biggest complaints voters had last year was there was only one early voting site in Manatee County,” Bennett said.  “So we started looking for four early voting sites."

Early voting sites will be set up at the main elections office, Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, Rocky Bluff Library in Ellenton and the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto. Officials are looking for another office in the west side of the county.

Bennett said he hopes the changes will increase voter turnout.

He is encouraging all voters to take advantage of early voting and the vote-by-mail option.