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New Election Commissioner gets input on polling locations

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  The need to create consistency with polling locations and improve signage were two of the big issues city councillors would like to see new Election Commissioner Paul Fahey tackle.

  “With the last two years with COVID and with the “reprecincting” going on and redistricting taking place, we need to take a fresh look at our polling locations,” said Fahey.

  During the past several weeks, Fahey has been speaking to councillors individually, and he met with the City Council as a whole during a subcommittee meeting on Monday, Feb. 28.

  Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo said he has heard concerns from voters about the constant changing of polling locations over the years. “People seem to be in a constant state of flux; they don’t know where they are voting,” said Rizzo.

  Rizzo pointed to Ward 6, where he lives and has voted in a half dozen different locations over the years. He said he has also heard from residents from Ward 3 who are concerned that several precincts were moved from the Lincoln School to St. Anthony’s. “It does cause a real state of confusion for voters,” said Rizzo. “If the goal is to get as many people to vote as possible, one way to do that is to bring stability to the voting locations.”

  Ward 3 Councillor Anthony Cogliandro said he would like to see the Lincoln School reopened for precincts 1 and 2 in his ward. Several councillors said they would like to see one voting location per ward, rather than having different locations for separate precincts. Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe said all Ward 4 voting was recently consolidated at the Hill School, and that he thinks it has worked out well. Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna was among those that raised concerns about lighting and signage at the Ward 1 polling location at the Beachmont School. Several other councillors said there needs to be better signage for polling locations on election days, and better communication from the city about where people vote.

  Fahey said he agrees that continuity and communication are big tasks that the election commission needs to undertake. “From my perspective, we are not looking to make a lot of wholesale changes,” he said. “I see us sticking with what works as much as possible.”

  Councillor-at-Large Marc Silvestri said the city also needs to look at transportation on Election Day for elderly voters and others who may have trouble getting around. Fahey said that in addition to transportation, the city needs to be aggressive about promoting early voting in areas where there are populations of people who may have transportation or mobility issues.

  Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky said the city still needs to address the potential polling location for a sub-precinct in his ward that was created as a result of the recent redistricting.

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