Bangor considers changing polling spot in Cross Insurance Center for June vote to ease access

Voters mark their ballots at the Cross Insurance Center on Tuesday, June 18, 2013.
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Voters mark their ballots at the Cross Insurance Center on Tuesday, June 18, 2013. Buy Photo
Posted April 27, 2014, at 11:46 a.m.
Last modified April 27, 2014, at 1:37 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — In an effort to shorten walks for elderly and disabled Bangor voters, the City Council is considering a change of voting spot for the June 10 elections.

Rather than setting up ballot booths in the Cross Insurance Center’s ballroom, as the city did in 2013, residents would line up on the concourse level of the arena. Voters previously had to walk past the arena, down the hallway of conference rooms and into the ballroom.

The city fielded complaints after the June and November 2013 elections because elderly and handicapped residents struggled to cover the lengthy distance from their cars in the parking lot, through the Cross Center and into the ballroom where the ballots were held.

City Clerk Lisa Goodwin said the concourse should work out fine in June elections, which typically draw just a few thousand voters, but both she and the Secretary of State’s Office have concerns that it might not work in other elections.

General elections in Bangor can draw a turnout of more than 10,000. In presidential years, the number can exceed 16,000, according to Goodwin.

Putting that many people through the concourse in a day isn’t likely to work, Goodwin said. Lines likely would back up and election officials probably wouldn’t be able to see all the way down the line.

“The people who poll watch need to be able to see what’s going on,” Goodwin told councilors.

The Secretary of State’s Office gave its approval to the location for this June’s election, but will want to review how concourse voting goes before approving it for future use, according to Goodwin.

It’s unclear at this point what the permanent solution might be, but councilors say they will be thinking about it.

The council will consider moving the voting spot during its April 28 meeting. The location change likely will be approved, as it was backed by the Government Operations Committee and appears on Monday’s consent agenda.

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