Brattleboro moves polls for primaries

Municipal Center move will save money, officials say

BRATTLEBORO — Town Clerk Annette Cappy has tinkered the logistics of voting in Brattleboro into a well-oiled machine.

For at least 20 years, Cappy and her brigade of town employees, members of the Board of Civil Authority, volunteers, and a moving company have operated primaries and elections from Brattleboro Union High School's gymnasium.

Not this year.

This year, Cappy and crew will load the Municipal Center's elevator. They will trundle polling booths, ballots, and electronic vote-counting machines to the Selectboard Meeting Room on the second floor.

Yes, it means a little more heavy lifting for all concerned, but it'll save the town money.

The Board of Civil Authority voted to hold the Aug. 26 primary and Nov. 4 general election in the Selectboard Meeting Room of the Municipal Center. Polling hours are extended. Polls open at 7 a.m.

Budget constraints pushed the change, said Cappy.

Brattleboro's fiscal year 2015 municipal budget underwent reductions from the Selectboard before Town Meeting Members approved it in March. The budget was reduced further over the summer in a special referendum.

According to Cappy, most of the work in the Town Clerk's office is human-powered and labor-intensive. Directed to find line-item budget cuts, she found these elections-related changes were her only option.

Holding the voting at the Municipal Center will save the municipality $1,300 to $1,500.

Cappy said renting the BUHS gymnasium costs the town $800 to $900 a day.

The school has to pay people to cover the floor with a protective mat, said Cappy.

Movers hauling voting equipment such as the four large, plastic voting machines and polling booths invoiced $500 to $600, said Cappy.

She said holding elections involves a number of “hidden costs.” Even with the savings, she estimates the upcoming primary will cost approximately $3,000.

Although the Secretary of State's office foots the bill for printing the ballots - saving the town a little money - programming the voting machines to read those ballots costs about $2,000.

And programming the machines for a primary costs more as the company must format a large number of names on four different ballots for each of Brattleboro's three voting districts - for 12 separate ballots, said Cappy.

The town will arrange parking for voters on Aug. 26 and Nov. 4 in the lot behind the Municipal Center.

Voters may request an early ballot until 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 25.

The deadline to register to vote is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 20.

The Town Clerk's office will open for early voting on Saturday, Aug. 23, from 9 a.m. until noon.

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