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June 11. 2014 10:12PM

New polling districts almost set in Salem

SALEM — Town officials are nearly finished with a plan for the town to move from four to five polling districts in time for the state’s primary election in September.

Selectmen approved the move to five polling districts earlier this year.

The town cut the number of districts from six to four in 2012. During the 2012 presidential election, there were a number of issues related to the tremendous turnout, especially at the town Senior Center and Fisk School polling locations. This prompted the decision by officials.

Town Moderator Christopher Goodnow said he and the town’s supervisors of the checklist are about seven-eighths of the way through analyzing all the data and preparing the voter lists for each of the five districts.

Under the redistricting, the Lancaster School will no longer be a polling location. The five polling locations will be North Salem School, Fisk School, the Senior Center, Soule School and Barron School.

There will also be a shifting of some voters to ensure that there are fewer voters at the Senior Center and the Fisk School.

“Going forward, there is some additional work in rolling this out for September,” said Goodnow. “We are working with the IT department on the ability for voters to go to the town website and input their street or address (so they know where to vote).”

In late August, the town will also mail every registered voter information on their polling district.

Goodnow said the September primary is typically a quieter election, with the November state election being a bit more of a challenge.

“There will be some people who go to the wrong polls, and we’re going to take some special steps to accommodate that,” said Goodnow.

In addition to the changes in polling locations, Goodnow said school Superintendent Michael Delahanty is amenable to closing the schools every four years to help deal with the voter crush of the presidential elections.

Closing the schools will not only create more room and less confusion at the schools on election day, but will also provide a pool of high quality ballot clerks, according to Goodnow.

“Processing the voters is where we have, at times, needed improvement,” said Goodnow.

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