Turkey Creek to remain polling place

Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 1:18 a.m.
The gated Turkey Creek subdivision will continue to be a polling place despite objections from some that voting should not be allowed in a community that does not allow candidates to campaign door-to-door.
The Alachua County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve new precinct lines and polling places countywide. The motion commissioners approved also encourages Elections Supervisor Bev Hill to find a polling place other than Turkey Creek in the future.
Voting in Turkey Creek has been a sore spot for some for the past couple of years. The subdivision is on U.S. 441, north of Gainesville, in the southern end of the city of Alachua. It does not allow solicitation.
County commissioners Penny Wheat and Mike Byerly noted concerns that the ban on solicitation gives candidates who live in Turkey Creek an unfair advantage because they could campaign at the clubhouse and at social events there.
Wheat also was concerned that Turkey Creek, like other polling places, is eligible for money from the elections office for use of its facilities.
"We know we have the ability to go door-to-door pretty much everywhere but Turkey Creek. There seems to be a conflict. I know you have struggled with that, as have other people," Wheat said to Hill. "If you are going to spend public money, it is my belief that all candidates should have the right to canvas door-to-door."
Hill's new voting lines consolidate most Alachua voting into one central location - the recreation center in town. But Hill said she and Alachua officials agree that a separate polling place is needed in the southern end of the city.
About 1,600 voters are assigned to the Turkey Creek precinct. Hill said she did not look for another location in the south end of Alachua, noting that handicapped accessibility would be a key problem in finding another site.
"I know there has been discussion about whether we should be voting at Turkey Creek. There is not an accessibility question with Turkey Creek. Even if I took the polling place out of there, people still would not be able to solicit there," Hill said. "Under the laws in Florida, on Election Day candidates can be in there. I'm not doing anything about that this year."
County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson said he was "confused by the logic" of people opposed to having a polling place in Turkey Creek, reiterating Hill's statement that removing a polling place there still would not allow campaigning in Turkey Creek.
The debate over Turkey Creek has been especially sharp in Alachua municipal elections. Alachua Commissioner James Lewis lives in Turkey Creek.
Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or swirkoc@gvillesun.com.

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