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October 7, 2013

Registrars push back at proposed school voting ban

(Continued)

The registrars propose moving Ward 4, Precinct 3, from Peabody High School to Temple Beth Shalom; moving Ward 5, Precinct 1, from the Kiley School to Temple Ner Tamid; moving Ward 5, Precinct 3, from McCarthy School to either Temple Ner Tamid or West Congregational Church; moving Ward 6, Precinct 1, from the West Memorial School to the West Congregational Church or the Community Covenant Church.

Each of these changes would be dependent on winning acceptance from the religious institutions named.

Addressing both the issues of safety and disruption, Blodgett wrote, “Currently, the police presence at schools on Election Day is greater than at any other time of the year. If this is still insufficient, we can discuss the option of providing additional security measures during school. Another option is to schedule a teacher Professional Development Day for the primary elections in September, just as this option is used for final elections in November, which means schools will be closed for the day.”

Blodgett also addressed a suggestion by Carpenter, who cited the experience of the Worcester city government in putting voting booths in places like supermarkets. Carpenter sees this as a convenience for voters likely to be there anyway. Blodgett replied, “The Board does not support utilizing a private, for-profit facility that would provide businesses with additional customer volume in the form of voters.”

After hearing a reporter’s summary of the letter, School Committee member David McGeney expressed his willingness to discuss it with the registrars.

“I’m appreciative of the thoughtfulness of the response,” he said. Additionally, he acknowledged that the notion of moving voters out is not popular but added, “Our main concern is the safety of our children.”

Alan Burke can be reached at aburke@salemnews.com.

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