will host a polling place in the coming elections, and the are making provisions to assist voters and avoid interference with beach activities.
The city will also retain three polling places for a . The registrars recommended a single polling place at , but the City Council unanimously rejected the recommendation due to concerns that it could lead to accusations of voter disenfranchisement.
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The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday for the Democratic and Republican primaries and on Sept. 18 for the budget referendum.
Ocean Beach Park voting
Polling places for the city’s three districts have recently been at New London High School, , and the building on Beech Drive. However, the Nathan Hale School is unavailable since it is undergoing construction as part of its conversion to an arts magnet school.
Barbara Major, the Republican registrar of voters, said voters in the Third District will instead cast their ballots at Ocean Beach Park. Since the park is still open for the summer season, voters will be directed down Park Street so do not have to pay a fee at the park's main entrance.
Major said that there is a stairway and ramp available, but that runners will be available to assist seniors and disabled people up the incline to the polls. She said it will also be possible for people to fill out their ballot from their vehicle.
“We’re going to try to assist everybody as much as we can,” she said.
Singled polling place declined
In a cost analysis prepared for Council President Michael Passero, both Major and Democratic registrar of voters William Giesing recommended opening a single polling place at New London High School for the budget referendum. This vote was scheduled after petitioners successfully challenged the $42,323,256 approved for the municipal budget for the 2013 fiscal year, as well as a tax rate increasing the mill rate 7.5 percent from 25.31 to 27.22.
Giesing and Major said the city would save $10,000 by having a single polling place due to reduced costs for workers, custodians, memory cards, and printed lists. They estimated that three polling places will cost $15,313 while a single polling place will cost $5,317. They said the high school would provide adequate parking even with classes in session, as well as handicapped accessibility and a large auditorium.
The proposal drew protest from some residents at Monday’s City Council meeting. Dennis Downing said it would be unfair to reduce the number of polling places since it would make it more difficult for residents in other districts to get to the polls. Dr. David Hayes said the decision could be interpreted as an attempt to disenfranchise voters.
“It will inevitably reduce the number of people who vote,” he said.
Councilor Adam Sprecace said the suggestion of a single polling place has been floated before, and that he was opposed to it. Passero said he was concerned that the registrars could exceed their budget due to the additional costs related to the referendum, but that he did not want the city to be accused of disenfranchisement.
Councilor John Maynard questioned whether a single polling place could be used for the primaries instead. Giesing said this is not possible because state law mandates that the primary polling places must be the same as the general election ones.