, Salem, MA

Local News

February 12, 2014

Voters likely out at Higgins

PEABODY — If you vote at Higgins Middle School, prepare for an adjustment next election.

The School Committee met with the Board of Registrars last night to discuss a proposal by the former to eliminate voting in the city’s schools. Members, led by Brandi Carpenter, gave compelling reasons for the change, including the safety of students and the loss of learning time due to the disruption caused by elections.

None of these arguments impacted the registrars’ decision to find an alternative to voting at Higgins, however. Rather, it was Superintendent Joe Mastrocola’s warning that construction of the new Higgins will eliminate the parking needed for voters. Registrar Judith Blodgett conceded that a move will be necessary, but she balked at committing to a permanent change.

“I don’t know if we’re ready to make that decision,” she said.

School Committee member Beverley Griffin-Dunne, who has opposed moving voting from the schools, cited her involvement in the design of the new middle school and said, “I don’t think you’ll be able to have voting there when it’s done.”

Colleague Tom Rossignol backed up her contention that the design of the new building will make it an impractical voting location.

Blodgett said her board had some “brainstorming” to do in dealing with the Higgins situation, as well as additional changes.

“I’m keeping my eye on Danvers,” she said, referring to Danvers’ one voting location, the high school.

Registrar Michael Moutsoulas said that the Higgins issue is enough for the city to react to at this time.

“Our superintendent said the Higgins should be a priority,” he said.

Carpenter noted that City Clerk Tim Spanos and the registrars have already explored alternative locations, getting preliminary approvals from sites including Community Covenant Church and the West Branch Library.

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