LGBTQ voters share concerns about new Fernandina Beach polling place at local church – 104.5 WOKV

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. — Some community members in a Fernandina Beach electoral district are demanding a new location ahead of the Aug. 23 primary election.

The Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church is an in-person voting location, but some fear it could be unsafe for LGBTQ voters.


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The church has issued several publications and public remarks condemning same-sex relationships and Pride celebrations.

Fernandina Beach Pride board member Connor Fasel calls the new location an unfair and dangerous situation.

“Our issue is that due to some speeches they made really public, this is not a safe place for LQBT people, their families and allies to vote,” Fasel said.

He refers to a Facebook video previously live on the church’s Facebook page, in which the pastor makes several remarks about the city hosting a Pride celebration.

“I think we should all show up, amen, in protest,” the pastor said.

The church will be the polling station for Precinct 13 in the upcoming 2022 elections.

Fasel said he believes in the right to free speech, but thinks the compound can be a threatening and dangerous atmosphere for the LGBTQ community.

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He said that when he and others raised their concerns with Elections Supervisor Janet Adkins, she refused to change venues.

“The election supervisor told us that voter safety is not a consideration when choosing polling stations,” Fasel said.

The Facebook video is accompanied by other posts calling the city’s pride festival “shameful” and condemning the Fernandina Beach City Council for its support of the LGBTQ community.

Fasel believes the election supervisor’s refusal to change that polling location is voter suppression.

We reached out to Adkins for an interview about the concerns. She couldn’t take the time to talk to us but answered our questions via email.

Adkins said when selecting locations, they look for adequate parking, cooking facilities, electrical outlets, space requirements and ADA compliance. She added that it was not their practice to search social media accounts.

Adkins also said polls were finalized in April and they sent out more than 73,000 voter information cards in May; and making changes within 56 days of the election is not an option.

Even so, Fasel thinks it’s a problem to make a last-minute exception.

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“If you don’t guarantee every citizen the right to a fair and safe vote, fair and safe elections in person and on election day, then you are participating in voter intimidation and voter suppression,” he said. Fasel said.

We reached out to the church for comment on the polling concerns.

The pastor said everyone is welcome to come and vote and should feel safe. He said they weren’t okay with the city allowing a Pride parade, but they meant no harm to anyone.

You can find Adkins’ full statement below:

“Our office began the polling station selection process in early 2021 after losing several long-term polling stations in 2020.

In September 2021, my team and I met with the Nassau County Superintendent of Schools to discuss the use of schools as voting locations for the 2022 election cycle. It was communicated to us that the use of schools as voting locations voting was not the best option for Nassau County students and would disrupt their learning.

When we assess polling stations, we look for adequate parking, kitchen facilities for our election workers who will be working more than 2 hours on Election Day, electrical outlets for voting materials, space requirements, and compliance ADA. It is not our habit to search or google social media accounts.

We finalized our list of polling places in April 2022 and mailed more than 73,000 voter information cards to Nassau County voters in May 2022.

Elections take a lot of planning and making changes with only 56 days until the primary election on August 23 is not a viable option. Florida statutes provide voting opportunities through early voting, voting by mail, and voting on Election Day.

Early voting is available to voters in Nassau County August 10-20, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mail-in ballots will be mailed on July 14.

It remains the top priority of the Nassau County Elections Office to ensure that all voters have convenient access to the voting process. »

Adkins also issued this press release about the situation:

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