SALEM — Voters in District 1 will be heading to the track in March.
With renovations under way at the Fisk Elementary School, which is the regular District 1 polling location, Town Moderator Chris Goodnow has spent the past several months looking for a suitable replacement for the March municipal elections.
Rockingham Park was one of several locations offered as a polling location over the summer, but Goodnow said he needed assurances from the state that there would be no binding votes on gambling legislation in March that could create a conflict of interest.Goodnow said Rockingham Park meets the necessary requirements of having a sufficient amount of parking and handicapped access, as well as enough space for the voting itself.
This week, selectmen approved moving the polling location for the March election to Rockingham Park.
“I delayed seeking a charge from (selectmen) because, historically, legislation associated with gambling or increased gaming has a component in it that, after legislation is passed, the local community have to have a binding vote on it,” said Goodnow. “In my mind, I couldn’t entertain the risk that there would be a binding vote for gaming in the community with one of the polling places being a facility where that gaming would occur.”
The state senate president assured Goodnow that even if gaming legislation did come to pass, there would be no logistical way there could be a vote on it in March.
“I was given that assurance a couple of weeks ago, and I reconfirmed with the general manager of the track that the offer from the summer was still open,” said Goodnow.
He also confirmed with the state that the temporary change in polling location does not require a vote by the public.
It is expected that the multi-purpose room at the Fisk School would be completed in time for the town to move the District 1 polling location back to the school in time for the September 2014 election.
Selectman Stephen Campbell said the town has to get the word out about the polling location immediately.
“It’s going to take awhile for it to sink in,” he said.
Campbell also suggested someone be at the Fisk school on the day of the election directing any wayward voters to Rockingham Park.