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Despite rustic condition, rural schoolhouse still home to polling site

By BY SARA SNEATH - SSNEATH@VICAD.COM
March 4, 2014 at 8:01 p.m.
Updated March 3, 2014 at 9:04 p.m.

Kemper City Schoolhouse serves as the polling place for  Victoria County Precinct 16. It is rustic, with no running water or heat.

Kemper City Schoolhouse sits on a narrow, paved road about a 20-minute drive south of Victoria.

The schoolhouse has been the voting location for Victoria Precinct 16 for more than 12 years despite the fact that the uninsulated wooden building has no central heat or air and no running water, Gary McElhaney, one of the two presiding election judges at the schoolhouse, said Tuesday.

"We'd like to find some place different," McElhaney, 62, of Victoria, said.

Four volunteers were bundled up, sipping hot tea and coffee made from water brought from home as voters trickled in Tuesday.

As of 5:30 p.m., 26 people had voted at the location, said Judy Nelson, the other presiding election judge. She said voting at the location opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 7 p.m., but volunteers had to be there by 6 a.m. to set up.

McElhaney said he didn't think voter turnout was affected by the condition of the building.

"I think the people who come to vote here like to come here and meet with neighbors," McElhaney said.

Other voting locations have been discussed for the precinct, including a mobile trailer or a resident's home, but no action has been taken, he said.

Despite the threat of raccoons crawling under the building, wasps building hives in the windows, and volunteers using a portable toilet, election officials continue to come back each year.

"I enjoy it because I get to see the neighbors," Nelson said.

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