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Sue Bush
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Voters Get A Tasty Twist At Polling Place

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ralph Brown and Shirley Carroll enjoy a lunch after voting. A buffet-style meal was available at the Pownal, Vt. polling place.
Pownal, Vt. - Members of the Pownal Valley Swinging Seniors senior citizens group may have discovered a recipe for increased voter participation - feed 'em.

A sign erected at the Route 7 town polling place, the Pownal Valley Volunteer Fire Department firehouse, invited voters to enjoy a varied menu of foods and desserts after voting was completed. A separate area of the firehouse was set up with tables, table coverings and flowers in vases. A buffet-style collection of casserole dishes and slow-cookers filled with homemade foods including creamy vegetable soup, chili, corn chowder and more surrounded the room's perimeters. Steamed hot dogs and potato chips were available, as well as coffee, soft drinks, and desserts of homebaked cakes, pies, and cookies.


Janice Pratt and Mickey Lavigne
The food was offered at no charge and a container was in place for those who wanted to donate to the Swinging Seniors group.

Several voters/diners were seated around the tables at noon on Nov. 7, and additional folks navigated from the voting booths to the buffet minutes later. Ralph Brown and Shirley Carroll shared a table and conversation over slices of homemade pumpkin pie.

"This is the way to do elections," Brown said. "The food is great."

"Swinging senior" Janice Pratt said that this marks the third year that the group has offered the meals during voting hours. Club members Donna Patterson, Mickey Lavigne, and Laura Messina assisted Pratt.

The suggestion for the meals originated with Town Clerk Karen Burrington, Pratt said.

"Karen mentioned that it might be something nice for the voters," Pratt said. "Not everyone can stop in and eat because some people have to get to work but it is nice for the ones who can come in and sit. People have taken advantage of this and we enjoy doing it."

Seconds after she spoke, a man entered the room and asked "Is this where we can get the lunch?"

"Sure is," replied Pratt.

Donna Patterson and Laura Messina


Then, as state Rep. William Botzow came into the room from the outside, she called "OK, Bill, the high-test [coffee] is ready."

"Oh, good, that's what I've been waiting for and I'm having some soup, too," said Botzow, whose reelection bid was unopposed.

Pratt said many town "cooks" enjoy an opportunity to bring their favorite recipes to the polls. Voters have learned that a nosh is available if they want a bit of nourishment after the work of voting.

"We've had a lot come and go already today," Pratt said. "I'm looking...oh, yes, I see a couple of empty pie plates over on that table."

Botzow expressed his support for the endeavor and then gave an "endorsement."

"I vote for the corn chowder," he said, as he dipped a spoon into a steaming cup of sustenance.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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