BRATTLEBORO—Voters going to the polls on Nov. 8 will need to head north.
North up Putney Road that is.
Voting in the Nov. 8 general election will happen at the VFW Carl Dessaint Post 1034 on Black Mountain Road.
In a news release, the Board of Civil Authority said town bus service will provide free rides to people who need them. The board is also contacting local organizations and businesses and asking that they provide free transportation to voters.
Normally, voting in Brattleboro occurs at the Municipal Center or Brattleboro Union High School. Neither location, however, will work for the 2016 General election.
“We considered a number of factors including accessibility, traffic congestion, cost, and parking before selecting the VFW for our polling place,” said Elliott Greenblott, chair of the Board of Civil Authority, the local entity with jurisdiction over polling sites.
Greenblott stressed the VFW location is a “one-time” change to accommodate the high voter turnout expected.
Voting will return to the Municipal Center for the March 2017 local elections.
Recent elections have happened at the Municipal Center, but Town Clerk Annette Cappy said the expected higher turnout for the 2016 general election likely would have swamped the Municipal Center’s parking and accessibility capabilities.
Cappy added that using the high school as a polling place would also have presented challenges. School will be in session Nov. 8, which could have made parking, scheduling, and other logistics very challenging and frustrating for voters, she said.
“It [would] be horrible with school in session,” she said.
Another downside to polling at the school, according to Cappy, would be that polls can’t open before 9 a.m. due to a combination of challenges such as staffing, scheduling, and schlepping election materials.
Location rental cost was another consideration but not a deciding factor, Cappy said.
Renting the school’s gym can cost as much at $1,500 for the day, she said, whereas the VFW rent is $700.
According to Cappy, using the VFW site will remedy most of the identified challenges.
“This location will provide voters with the best possible experience at the polls,” she said.
Cappy recommended voters who might find it difficult to get to the VFW take advantage of early voting.
“We realize that there will be inconvenience to some voters, particularly those who walk to the polls,” Cappy said. “Our strongest recommendation is to take the opportunity provided by early voting.”
Residents can contact the Town Clerk’s office and request that an early ballot be mailed to them. Or, she said, people can vote early in person.
Due to a recent change to the Brattleboro Town Charter, championed by Cappy, voters can cast in-person ballots in the clerk’s office starting Sept. 23 — 45 days before the election.
“While we know many feel that voting on Election Day is something ‘sacred,’ time can be a limiting concern when voting takes place on a workday,” she said. “You can avoid frustration and perform your civic responsibility by voting early.”
The charter change allowed the clerk’s office to activate a ballot box — tabulator machine — for use in early voting rather than hold early ballots unopened until election day.
The Aug. 9 primary was the first time Brattleboro residents could choose the in-person early option, Cappy said. According to Cappy, 323 voters took advantage of this option.
“Anything that will encourage voting is a good thing,” Cappy said.