HOOKERTON — The Hookerton Board of Commissioners has elected to continue one-stop and absentee voting for town residents despite an increase in the cost of providing these services.
In Greene County, the costs are split between the towns of Hookerton, Snow Hill and Walstonburg and the Maury Sanitation Land District.
By law, municipalities are allowed to decide if they will offer one-stop or absentee ballots for municipal elections. The Greene County Elections Office acts as the contractor of services and is paid by the towns and sanitation district.
Services include printing ballots, ballot programming and supplies, postage for postcards and informational sheets and poll workers’ salaries.
Walstonburg decided it would not offer absentee and one-stop voting. Residents will only be able to vote on Election Day for the 2021 municipal election.
In 2019, Walstonburg had no one-stop or absentee by mail voters. It had 24 voters on Election Day.
From 2011 until 2019, Walstonburg only has had eight instances of one-stop voting and had zero for voting by mail.
Hookerton has had significantly more one-stop participation, with a total of 40 ballots from 2011 to 2019.
In 2019, Hookerton had 10 voters use one-stop voting and two voting by mail. Twenty-two residents voted on Election Day.
Knowing the service was used, Hookerton commissioners said they did not feel right taking it away.
“I don’t want to see anyone lose one vote,” said Mayor Pro-tem Arthur Robinson.
Commissioners agreed to continue to offer the services by a vote of 3-0. Commissioner Sandra Stocks was not present at the meeting, but expressed her support for continuing alternate voting services at past meetings.
The cost of absentee voting in the 2019 municipal election for Hookerton was $997.37. This cost is estimated to increase by approximately $350-$450 for the 2021 municipal election due to Walstonburg’s decision. Costs are divided among participating municipalities.
The cost could increase further if Maury Sanitation Land District pulls out. The town of Snow Hill has elected to continue to offer the voting alternatives.
In other action, the board:
- Scheduled a public hearing will take place on the town’s proposed 2021-22 fiscal year budget at 6 p.m. on June 24.
- Discussed recruiting a sit-down restaurant to Hookerton. The town has been working to recruit an eatery for years. Recently, KaLean’s Restaurant has been closed and members of the board are unsure of the owner’s plans.
Buzz Shackelford of Hookerton approached the board on June 1 and volunteered to assist in its recruitment efforts.
“I’m here and I’m here to help. I’ve made an investment in Hookerton,” Shackelford said.
“This town has got the undeniable reputation in Greene County of being proactive and pro-business and of getting things going in town,” he said.
Commissioners and Shackelford said Hookerton would be an ideal location for a restaurant and that timing would be right to establish one. Possible locations, including spots with adequate parking, were discussed. No action was taken.
- Voted to require future new water and sewer connections to have a shut-off valve for water and clean-out valve for sewer. Commissioners also elected to encourage residents without these features to install them.