By: Tammy Daniels On: 04:59PM / Monday May 02, 2011
Voters in Ward 3 will join those in Wards 1, 2 and 5 in casting ballots at St. Elizabeth Parish Center in the next electin.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Voters in Ward 3 will be moving to a new polling location in the next election.
The polling station for Ward 3 has been located in the Ashland Park Apartments High-Rise. Ward 3 will join Wards 1, 2 and 5 at the St. Elizabeth's Parish Center, consolidating four polling stations in one location. The Board of Registrars voted unanimously to change the location of Ward 3.
City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau said the consolidation had been discussed for years because of the promiximity of the four polling stations – they were all within a mile of each other. The consolidation actually began when the closure of Notre Dame Church on East Main Street pushed out the polling station for Ward 2 that had been located in the church's basement hall.
"We had to move from Notre Dame, then when Conte Middle School was closed (in 2009), we had to move Ward 1 out of the gym," said Gomeau, who added that the idea was to move one polling station at a time to ensure it worked. "I've been very pleased with it so far."
Ward 1 and Ward 2 — literally across the street from each other for years — moved into St. Elizabeth's Parish Center, where voting for Ward 5 was located. When the parish changed the date for its annual bazaar, the availability of the parish center gym allowed the full plan to be put in action.
"It was a very easy transition for everyone," said Gomeau. "The gym at St. Elizabeth's is large enough to accommodate all four wards. St. Elizabeth's is easily accessible to everyone, and is handicapped accessible."
She said the move will save money since there will be fewer machines to program and fewer police officers on duty. The parish center also provides easier access to all four wards in the event of a machine problem and an easier set up for the Public Works Department.
But she stressed the move was not prompted to save costs, but rather the final step in a long-discussed plan to streamline and group voting stations. It will also cut down the clerk's travel time between polling stations, making it easier for her to deal with problems like balky voting machines.
She does not believe the move will significantly affect turnout in Ward 3. "We did our homework on the population, and it's not a huge population that votes," said Gomeau, who added that the plans are being made to provide rides to the new location for the elderly.
The change will not affect the wards themselves, which are required based on population, although voters will have to remember which ward they're in now — not where they vote.
Voting for the city's fifth, Ward 4, will remain where it is at Greylock Elementary School.
"We would never pull Ward 4 from the West End," said Gomeau. "It's a very large turnout in Ward 4. But it made sense for the others. ... We think this is a win-win for everyone."
Registered voters in Ward 3 will receive a notice in the mail informing them of the change in voting location.
:: Preliminary Election: Deadline to register is Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Office open from 8 to 8.)
:: General Election: Deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 18
Registration can be completed at the city clerk's office at City Hall.
Absentee ballots are now available at the city clerk's office for the Sept. 27 preliminary city election. Voters may come in between the hours of 8 and 4:30 weekdays. Written reguests for mailed ballots can be sent to City Clerk's Office, 10 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Sept. 26, at noon.
The preliminary election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, to narrow the field of three mayoral candidates to two. The general election to select nine city councilors and a mayor will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.