District weighs fewer polling places

GLOVERSVILLE-The Gloversville Enlarged School District is considering reducing the number of polling places in the district.

Because the school district has more than 10,000 residents, it can lower the number of polling places, but it must have more than one, school officials said.

Superintendent Michael Vanyo suggested at the meeting Tuesday that the district have two polling places, one at Gloversville High School in the gym and the other in Bleecker.

According to Vanyo, currently, there is one polling place at every school building and one in the Town Hall of Bleecker to service residents of the school district living there. Originally, Vanyo said the goal was to shrink it down to one district polling place in the high school, but due to the district’s population, they must have at least two according to a state Department of Education law.

According to Vanyo, safety is another concern with the way polling places are set up currently. With all the work done to keep the district secure, he said, one day a year the district opens the schools up to strangers while classes are in session. While this may have been acceptable when the law was written, Vanyo said times have changed.

“Now it is 2014, and I use this example. Columbine and Newtown were not in anybody’s mind when these laws were written. The only thing I am looking at is how do we continue to stay within the law, how do we try and make a safer environment, how do we become more efficient and more effective,” Vanyo said.

By consolidating polling into one school building in Bleecker, the district could curb security issues.

“What we would do in essence is have everyone in Gloversville come up to the high school and allow us to reduce some of the polling in the city,” Vanyo said. “It would let us be a lot more efficient, but would also allow where we are still in what the city school district rules say we should be in.”

According to Vanyo, money could be saved with this plan on poll workers and machines. In a January meeting, Assistant Superintendent Steven Schloicka said the current 19 election supervisors could be lowered to six by moving polling to one place, with an approximate total savings of about $1,400 a year. Savings for consolidating polling into two sites were not available.

Members of the board were varied in their reactions, with some supporting the plan, but others showing concern regarding the placement of the polls.

Joseph Andrews, board member, said he was concerned about fewer voters turning out after a consolidation. Vanyo said he believed more people would turn out afterward.

“One of the reasons we picked the high school is it is a central location,” Vanyo said.

The board did not come to a decision, deciding to postpone a decision until a later date. Vanyo said he would have a resolution placed on the agenda for the next board meeting.

Vanyo said a decision would need to be made in February so plans could be made for future votes.