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December 4, 2013

Danvers moves back to single polling place

DANVERS — Selectmen voted last night to consolidated the town’s four polling locations under one gym roof at the newly renovated Danvers High to save money and improve administration of elections.

The four members present did this despite getting an earful from voters unhappy with the last time the town consolidated its polling locations at the high school. Residents cited the possibility of traffic jams on Cabot Road and the difficulty of finding a parking space once they get there.

“I do hear the concern,” said selectmen Chairman Gardner Trask before being one of those voting to consolidate the polling locations. “And, I got a lot of stops on the street.”

“We have been through this,” said Town Manager Wayne Marquis. Marquis said his administration is committed to making a single polling location work this time, and he suggested monthly updates on election planning.

“We are up for the challenge,” he said.

The vote was 4-0 in favor of the move. Selectman Dan Bennett, who was not at last night’s meeting, had told Trask that he did not favor a single polling location.

In 2008, the town consolidated its eight precinct voting stations into one. Then, in 2010, it moved back to four locations. The move back to four was done after a snowy special U.S. Senate election in January 2010, an election that saw a traffic jam on Cabot Road as cars tried to negotiate a sharp turn on Chestnut Street on treacherous roads.

The expanded number of polling locations was also prompted by a massive renovation project at Danvers High for the past three years, work that made it off-limits to voters.

With the project finished this fall, Marquis brought up the idea of moving voting back to a renovated Vye gym.

He also said parking and handicapped parking has improved, and there is a new turnaround adjacent to the entrance to the gym, which is at the back of the student parking lot. There are about 80 parking spaces in the vicinity of the gym, Selectman Bill Clark said.

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