Marquis said there are several advantages to having a single polling location. Depending on the number of elections in a given year, it can save the town $1,600 to $6,400 because less staff is required. Marquis said by far the biggest advantage is “the improved capability to serve the voting public” and the management of the voting process.
With voting at a single polling location, the town clerk can quickly clear up voters’ confusion about registration issues without having to travel across town to do so. In addition, if a resident shows up at the wrong precinct polling station to vote, all he or she has to do is move to the next station, not drive across town.
A single polling location removes elementary schools from serving as polling places when schools are in session during an election. The plan is to schedule professional-development days during elections so that the high school is not in session when voting takes place.
Selectwoman Diane Langlais said bills on Beacon Hill that are designed to enhance voting, such as online voting, early voting and other changes make a single polling location more appealing.
Selectman David Mills said he liked having the town vote all in one place.
“I happen to like it because it’s like a pancake breakfast without the pancakes,” said Mills, who also heard from older residents complaining of access and parking problems at the high school. He at first suggested putting off a vote until Marquis made a presentation on parking, but then he changed his thinking after hearing from other selectmen.
Clark pointed out that there are several ways to get to the high school besides Cabot Road and that parking and access is limited at three of the most recent voting locations, Smith and Thorpe elementary schools and the Senior Center.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.