By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – Town Clerk Andrew Dowd appeared before the Northborough Board of Selectman at their March 25 meeting with a proposal to relocate the town’s four polling places to one location at the Robert E. Melican Middle School, 145 Lincoln St.
The board voted unanimously in favor of this proposal which goes into effect at the May 14 Annual Town Election.
Dowd said that the current locations are at the town’s four elementary schools. Town and school officials have been working collaboratively to identify locations that would accommodate the single voting location format.
After careful review, the Robert E. Melican Middle School was selected because it was ADA compliant and is centrally located with plenty of parking.
There are two areas that would be suitable for voting – the cafeteria and the gymnasium. They offer direct entry and exit points, keeping students segregated with minimal disruptions as they are fairly isolated from the student population.
“Combining the four polling locations into one space would benefit both the town and the schools,” Dowd said. “There would still be four precincts which are required by law.”
“A centralized polling location will improve efficiency and effectiveness of oversight. Many other towns in the area have consolidated their polling precincts in a similar manor,” Dowd stated, citing Southborough as an example.
Board Chair Dawn Rand said that it sounded like a great idea to her.
Selectman Leslie Rutan agreed and said that several parents have contacted her in the past with their concerns of safety and security at the elementary schools.
Algonquin Regional High School had been considered. Parking and traffic concerns were deemed to be problematic.
In related news, the board later voted to close and execute both the Annual Town Meeting and the Annual Town Election warrants.