By Amy Wenk

Some voters in the July 20 primary election complained about a polling location on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs.

“It doesn’t seem all that appropriate,” voter Marjorie McDonald said as she walked with her cane after voting in the back warehouse at Gallery 63, 4577 Roswell Road.

McDonald was referring to the large horse, elephant and giraffe statues that sat outside the warehouse and blocked cars from parking in the one parking spot marked for disabled drivers. Poll workers set up a makeshift parking spot in front of the life-sized animals.

“Can I get between the horse and the elephant?” McDonald asked. “I just have to watch [my step]. I had knee replacement surgery.”

Melissa Firestone, assistant poll manager for the Gallery 63 precinct in Sandy Springs, shows how the site’s handicap parking space was filled with animal statues.

Poll workers also had to set up the registration table outside the building, in an unshaded area.

Sandy Springs Dist. 6 City Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny, who votes at the precinct,  said “what I saw today was just unacceptable.”

The councilwoman said the polling location was not handicapped accessible and there was little room inside for the polling booths. “No effort was made for privacy whatsoever,” she said.

“Our elderly voters should not have to dodge elephant tusks to cast their votes,” McEnerny said.

She called the situation a “failure of judgment” on behalf of Fulton County election officials, who had visited the site several times to set up the polls. The county board of registration and elections runs elections in Sandy Springs. The city, however, wants to control its elections.

McEnerny said she had complained to county election officials about the situation.

“Fulton County Board of Elections [officials] said they have been to the site three different times,” McEnerny said, but never found a problem with polling location.

The councilwoman said that in the past the polls were set up in the abandoned church building on the site, which had a handicap ramp.

Gallery 63 CEO Paul Brown said he didn’t understand the complaints. Brown said he thought there was plenty of room for voters to reach the polls. Federal law on building access requires walkways be about three feet wide, he said.

“Let’s get a tape measure,” Brown said.

Brown then demonstrated that there was 36 inches of space, enough, he said, for a wheelchair.

Fulton County Elections Chief Dwight Brower said his office would send a county employee to the polling location to address the issues. Brower would not comment further.