In Hollis, election marred by ZumbagateBY BANJAMIN C. KLEIN
Union Leader Correspondent
March 13. 2013 10:49PM
HOLLIS - Town Moderator Jim Belanger said he suspects that a Zumba class is responsible for rearranging voting booths in Lawrence Barn on the eve of election night so they could dance the night away, forcing the Department of Public works to scramble in the morning to set everything back up.
If the Zumba class is the culprit, Belanger said he thinks the class, which is taught by Natasha Vilgrain, should be "strongly reprimanded" for causing a voting delay of about 10 minutes. Vilgrain could not be reached for comment.
"It's not my decision, but I think they should be billed for the cost of having the DPW come in and set everything up again," Belanger said.
Belanger explained that when he left the barn at 163 Depot Road locked up at 3 p.m. the day before the election, everything was set up correctly. When he returned at 6 a.m. the following day, he thought vandals had struck because collapsible voting booths had been folded up and pushed haphazardly to the side.
However, after police were called in it became apparent that while everything had been moved, nothing was damaged.
"It takes at least three people to move those voting booths," Belanger said.
It was on the verge of becoming a mystery when an officer on the scene said a Zumba class uses the space on Monday nights.
"They were told they couldn't use the space that Monday," Belanger said of the Zumba class, "and they didn't even have the courtesy to put everything back up the way it was before they started their class."
Belanger said that while he can't be absolutely sure it was the Zumba class, it is logical to assume they are responsible.
"The barn was locked," Belanger said, "and (Vilgrain) has an electronic keycard that allows her access to the barn." He said that despite being told not to, it appears "they just decided to have class anyway."
Due to the delay caused by the Zumba class, Belanger said he had to call the N.H. attorney general, secretary of state and state election officials.
Belanger said, however, that it was fortuitous it happened on an election with such a low turnout.
"We were lucky that only four people came to vote when polls opened instead of the usual 10 to 15," he said.