Should There Be Fewer Polling Places For Primaries?

Meriden Record Journal article provides arguments for and against by city registrars and the Secretary of the State. <read>

Democratic Registrar of Voters Maureen Flynn would prefer to have fewer polls to accommodate the lower turnout for a mayoral primary, she said, noting that the city budgeted $35,000 this year to accommodate the expense…

There are 12,472 registered Democrats eligible to vote in the primary, and Flynn said that a good turnout would be about 20 percent of the Democrats, or around 2,494 voters.

To accommodate them, the city will have 128 workers, either manning the 17 polling places or for other tasks, such as counting absentee ballots, she said…

Although he understands that cities are strapped for cash, Av Harris, spokesman for Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, said that opening all the polls in a district is important, even for a primary.

“We don’t regulate the polling places depending on how much turnout there is,” he said. “The right to vote is one of the most sacrosanct in the functioning of a democracy.”

Whenever there’s a change in polling places, there’s almost always confusion among voters, he said.

“You’ll always find those who have a problem because it’s a change in folks’ routines,” he said. “There may be an argument at the local level when turnout is so low, that it’s a waste of money, but it’s the individual right to vote that’s really supreme here.”

It is a tough call.  In my town, Glastonbury, in referendums there is only one polling place instead of the normal eight (soon to be reduced to six).  It seems to work out fine.  But in Glastonbury almost everyone drives everywhere.  When we think of a large cities such as Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport its easy to see how reducing polling places could reduce turn-out and locations could easily change the result.  It would be easy to say it is a local decision, but local decisions on polling place locations can be a form Gerrymandering.

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