Salem moderator urges town to consider redistricting for elections
SALEM — With a heavy turnout and a reduction to four polling locations, the 2012 presidential election didn’t run as smoothly as it could have.
To help alleviate some of the concerns and issues raised during the presidential polling, Town Moderator Chris Goodnow is suggesting the town look at a redistricting plan that would add one polling location.
Last September, the town cut the number of polling locations from six to four.
A committee including Goodnow, the town clerk, and the supervisors of the checklist will examine the issue and bring a detailed plan before selectmen later this year.
An initial plan brought forward by Goodnow earlier this week included closing polling at the Lancaster School, the least used of the current polling locations, and reopening polling at the Barron School and Soule School, two locations where polling was eliminated for the presidential election last year.
Goodnow said one of the benefits of going to four polling locations was that it helped alleviate the pressure on the need for election workers and assistant moderators and clerks. He said, however, that the town was not able to process voters as quickly as it thought it would be able to with four polling locations.
If the town does go to five locations and close polling at the Lancaster school, Goodnow said there will be a need for redistricting.
Voters will also have to approve the redistricting plan. Goodnow initially suggested voters take up the issue at the town election in March 2014, creating a buffer period before the high turnout presidential elections.
However, when the voters get to do that was a point of concern with some selectmen.
Selectman Stephen Campbell said voters who typically vote at Fisk School will be voting at Rockingham Park in March as the school will be under construction.
“I’m afraid that there will be some confusion with one actual change and one proposed change in the same election,” Campbell said.
Goodnow said he assumed the issue would have to be voted on at a town election, but said he would check with the state to see if redistricting could be placed on the 2014 state election ballot.