I spoke to Dr. Chevrette about two concerns that have been raised to me. First is the potential parking challenge. There are somewhat above 9,000 voters in town. If even 1/3 of them show up, that will be a significant number of vehicles. His plan is to have staff park in the back and leave a number of parking places in the front for voters. The second was a concern that we will have hundreds, if not thousands, of people entering a building that should be secured. Our children are in this building and I expect that security, in this day, is of the highest priority. My question was, 'How do we guarantee that no one is wandering the halls?". Dr. Chevrett indicated that he would talk to the town to see if they would be funding police to insure security.
I understand that the town made the request to use the high school as a single voting place to save money - but - I am not sure the location was well thought out. I am all in favor of saving money - but - how much will be saved, and at what expense. The voting is now only scheduled to be from noon to 8:00pm. Other school buildings have a better set up to secure the gym and not allow passage into or through the school building.
I agree with you, Tom. I would have prefered that we started by scaling down to 2 polling places. For instance, a Showcase or J&W down south, and Stop and Shop up North.
But I don't think it is fair to ask Dr C to solve the parking, traffic or other safety concerns. I think it will be on the TA and the BOS if adequate public safety is not provided.
The most disturbing part of the equation is, IMO, voter turnout will be even more dismal. I have had family and friends drive by polling places on election day and ask me what was on the ballot. The signs at the library, North and Martin schools were reminders. Even the most connected will forget. Unless, of course, they happen to drive past the high school.
Moved from the Calendar forum to whats happening in Seekonk for further discussion and visibility.
This was scheduled on a school day??? Sounds like a good day to have school off. Perhaps one of the Teacher training days could take place on that day in the future. I think that this was implemented after the school calendar was set.
Last edited by Dave on Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
While I agree that the BOS made the request, I was unsure who to approach. I went to Dr. Chevrette because, no matter who made the request, it is the SC and Dr. Chevrette who have control over the school property and responsibility over the safety of our children while they are on that property. If there is not an adequate plan in place, it should not be agreed to. The fact that there is a single polling place and the requested location falls squarely on the shoulders of the BOS since they requested it. The implementation of the request and any problems associated with that falls squarely on the shoulders of the SC since they agreed and approved the use of the high school.
I pray there are no issues. Knowing who to blame is a small consolation if someone gets hurt.
If you've never experienced what it's like when the high school gets out, you certainly want to avoid it at all costs. Throngs of kids getting to their cars and trying to get out of the parking lot ASAP, parents waiting to pick up kids, school buses loading and leaving, sport buses loading sports teams for away games, Away team buses arriving for home games - it's hectic just to pick up a student much less find a parking spot and enter against the crowds! I don't know if there will be any sports going on that day but I would avoid school release hours. I'll be going after 6 pm when I hope there'll be plenty of parking and few students around.
To address concerns about the high school as a polling place, allow me to begin with some clarification. Firstly, the Board of Selectmen approved this change - it was not Dr. Chevrette's ruling. Secondly, many concerns posted are the same type of concerns which brought attention to this situation and that change was necessary. In using the high school as our one polling place: 1. We have eliminated the exposure at Martin School of young children both inside and outside the school - depending on what time you vote, public mixing with children in the building and out on the grounds during recess. 2. North School houses Collaborative students. It is not desirable to integrate the public with the students. For safety concerns during school hours, North School did not allow us to use the front entrance so the back driveway(which is one lane) had to be used. To make matters more difficult, the doorway in the back was not handicap friendly. Three very serious reasons North School can no longer be considered a viable option as a polling place. 3. Many other towns use their high school as the only polling place and it works very well. There will be adequate Police Officer details to ensure safety and traffic flow. We will have a police officer inside the building right outside the gym and there will be an officer in the parking lot. NOTE: If you are concerned about traffic at the school, vote after 3:00PM. It will still be light out. 4. It may be possible in the future to work with the school committee to have election days as scheduled days off for the high school. It couldn't be done for the next school year as schedules were already prepared. 5. The person who suggested Johnson & Wales and Stop and Shop--Please understand, we would have to PAY to use other than town facilities. It is understood that anytime you to try to introduce change, people balk before giving it a try or are against it prior to knowing the genesis of what and why this may have come to be. Hopefully, this sheds some true light on the topic and the thoughtfulness that went into it. Jan Parker Town Clerk
I posted the other options for the polls. But I was unsure whether J&W charged for town use. I know other towns use private businesses for polling. Just curious. How much does it cost when town meetings are moved there? Are you aware how much save-a-pet pays? It is simply my opinion that, for all the taxes the seniors pay for the little they use in services, the town could at least provide 2 polling places.
I can think of a couple of private businesses that in these tough economic times, might appreciate the foot traffic with the chance to score a sale.
Be that as it may, I hope a small investment will be made for signs to be scattered around town on polling day and perhaps even before as a reminder of where and when.
I appreciate your response. I asked my questions of Dr. Chrevrett, not because I thought he made the decision, but because the SC had to approve the action and is ultimately responsible for the safety of the students. I do not believe the BOS could have held elections there if the SC had denied it. I don't think that Martin was an issue in that entry was though a back door and voters had no opportunity to mingle with students. I do agree with your other points and, in total, see the challenge. I raised my points because they had been raised to me and my preference is to put them on the table and avoid the 'gotcha' syndrome.
• All voting for the town election on Monday, April 6th, will take place in the high school gymnasium. More information about its impact on picking your child up in front of the school will follow. The voting takes place from 12 noon until 8 PM. __________________________________________ Looks like plans are being put in place for picking up students at SHS on election day, to keep things safe and sane.
Good Luck to all the candidates on the ballot today. Thank you for putting yourselves out there, even if you do not win this time around. You have still served your community by offering voters choices, and investing your time, interest and money in your campaign.
Voters, let's hear feedback on how the voting at the SHS goes. I think eventually there will be cost savings realized by the polling place consolidation. This first time, cost savings realized by programming 1 not 4 special voting areas for voters with disabilities may be outweighed by additional police details and extra staff on hand to have things go smoothly. Next time we can use lessons learned and hopefully realize more savings.
I voted at 6:00pm and was actually surprised at how easy it was, once I found a parking space. Having said that it would probably have been a lot more hectic if the turnout had been more than the 19%. I know that they had talked about coupling election day with a school planning day. That is not always possible as we do have a tendency of having special election. SO - a couple of questions that hopefully someone will know the answer to:
1. Does anyone know how this turnout compares to other elections? Town Only? Statewide? National?
2. How will the position of Moderator be filled before the town meeting? Special Election or appointment?
3. We appeared to have about the same number of 'workers' at the polls. How much did this election cost vs other elections? Where did any savings occur?
I already heard a complaint that a Seekonk resident just found out there was a special vote today and went to the high school this morning, only to find out that the voting hours are noon to 8 pm.
At some point people have to make the effort to keep themselves informed by reading a local newspaper, going to Seekonk websites or watching cable. At very least, if one has no internet and no cable and does not read local papers or talk to local residents, give the Town clerk's office a call once a month to see what's up for the month re: town meetings and elections.
Are you kidding me??? There is no one so blind as he who will not see.