Election Day concert worries some, but could drive early voting

Posted Oct. 14, 2010, at 5:22 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Residents hoping to cast their ballots after work on Election Day could run into a problem in Bangor.

While late-day voters are closing the striped curtains inside the Bangor Civic Center, as many as 1,500 people are expected to be rocking out to the band Styx in the adjacent auditorium.

The scheduling conflict may appear to be an oversight, but Bass Park Director Mike Dyer said when the city voted to use the civic center as its sole polling place, the auditorium was always in play.

“This was the only date [Styx] could do this show,” Dyer said. “I know a Tuesday night show is a little unusual, but we’re prepared.”

Now that the show has been booked, some city staff believe it actually could be a blessing in disguise, particularly if it encourages more Bangor residents to take advantage of early voting.

City councilors voted in early 2009 to consolidate from four polling places to a single location, the Bangor Civic Center. So far, that move has yielded few problems. If anything, it has increased the number of voters who choose the absentee option. In the last general election, only about 50 percent of Bangor voters cast ballots on Election Day — the rest voted ahead of time.

City officials hope that trend continues. Assistant City Clerk Dianne Lovejoy made an announcement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting reminding people of the Election Day concert and encouraging early voting.

The civic center will be open for in-person absentee voting beginning Monday, Oct. 25, and running through Saturday, Oct. 30. On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2, the civic center will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Dyer stressed that the Styx concert, which is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., is not expected to fill the auditorium. So far, fewer than 1,000 tickets have been sold and he expected the final attendance to be less than 2,000.

“We have a good plan to separate traffic, and we’ve designated some parking for voting only,” he said. “We’ll have plenty of people on site to manage any issues.”

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