Voting will continue at community center

Posted:  Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 9:00am

Wiscasset voters will continue casting ballots at the community center. Selectmen on Tuesday decided against returning the polls to the municipal building. Following the June election, Selectman Bob Blagden had asked the town office to look into returning polling to the hearing room.

At Town Manager Marian Anderson’s request, Town Clerk Linda Perry gave the board a list of things to consider. Perry noted federal guidelines had changed since polling was moved to the community center on Gardiner Road. Polling places must now meet state and federal ADA requirements for providing accessible voting. This includes providing safe access into and out of the polls for pedestrians and commuters, and providing ample lighting and parking.

Returning voting to the hearing room would mean voters would need to wait in line outside the building during busy periods, which would create an inconvenience during inclement weather. Because space is limited inside, petitioners would have to be stationed outside. There’s also limited parking at the municipal building and the parking area isn’t lighted, she noted.

Perry suggested an assessment be done to determine what it would cost to return polling to the municipal building. After reviewing the list, the board decided to keep the polls at the community center.

Robert MacDonald, community center operations manager, told the Wiscasset Newspaper, to the best of his recollection, voting at the center began about 17 years ago. The polls were relocated in order for the town to comply with revised ADA requirements, he said. MacDonald said at the time of the move the municipal building’s hearing room doors were not ADA-compliant. He also recalled a problem with the vestibule leading into the hearing room being too small for ADA egress.