Amherst to keep polling locations intact for Nov. 3 election

  • Joe Stafford, from left, Glenn Burrows, Janice Tidlund and Ralph Hathaway, who work for the Town of Amherst, set up for voting, Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in the fellowship hall at Amherst Zion Church in North Amherst for Precinct 1 voters. The workers set up eight locations for the town’s 10 precincts. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/28/2020 11:57:49 AM

AMHERST — Voting locations, including a new site at Amherst Regional High School for three precincts used during the state primary earlier this month, are likely to remain identical for the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Acting Town Clerk Susan Audette this week recommended that the Town Council leave intact each of the eight locations where people voted in-person for the state primary.

Audette, who is serving in a temporary role while Town Clerk Shavena Martin is on medical leave, described the primary vote as going well.

“All day long we had not one phone call from a voter, not a single call saying where do I go, or I went there and couldn't find it, or how do I get in the building,” Audette said.

For the state primary, the town moved Precinct 2, where voting had been at the North Fire Station, and Precincts 4 and 10, which had been at the Bangs Community Center, to the high school. This came after an earlier proposal of moving all precincts to the high school, creating a single polling place, was scrapped after feedback from the community. 

“I feel changing things up constantly is just confusing to everyone,” Audette said.

There were only a few minor issues at the high school, she said, such as a missing table that had to be put in place. But the high school offered room for social distancing and prevented cross traffic. “We had more than enough space for three precincts,” Audette said.

One improvement planned for the presidential election is to have more signs at all sites and closer handicapped parking at Crocker Farm School, where Precinct 7 voters go.

Jeremiah LaPlante, facilities maintenance manager for the town, said the goal in September was for a positive voter experience and safe in-person voting.

At the presidential election, LaPlante said the town will have dedicated areas for observers and that the occupancy limit, 25% based on mandates from the state, shouldn't be an issue for all sites except Crocker Farm. There, there will be a maximum of two observers at a time, while other sites can have from two to six observers at once.

The town is also preparing for longer lines outside each site. There were no lines throughout the day for the state primary.

Audette said she expects more people to participate in the presidential election. “I think more people will come out in person just because more people will want to vote in general in November,” she said.

The clerk’s office is also creating a central tabulating location for votes by mail, likely at the Bangs. 

Scott Merzbach can be reached at
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