NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Election Connection

November 7, 2012

High school polling an election-day win

Officials applaud debut of new voting location

AMESBURY — The relocation of the polls from City Hall to the cafeteria at Amesbury High School for the first time yesterday appears to have been a resounding success.

Officials reported a much smoother flow of voter traffic and far less confusion even as an early-morning crunch packed the cafeteria to maximum capacity.

While there were delays driving in and out of the parking lot of the high school on Highland Street, poll workers said voters seemed pleased with the new poll location.

“We think it’s been wonderful,” City Clerk Bonnijo Kitchin said. “The space is so much bigger, and if people think this was crowded, I can’t imagine what it would’ve been at the Town Hall. If this was crowded here, it would’ve been 10 times worse there.”

During a brief lull in the late morning, Kitchin said the busiest time of the day had been between 7 and 8 a.m., when more than 2,000 voters crowded into the cafeteria just as polls opened. Kitchin said she had to move a few tables and adjust the lines to get everyone to fit, but once people started moving through, voting and leaving, things began to run relatively painlessly.

“What happened was a lot of people showed up before the polls were open, waited to vote and we had a continuous line of traffic coming in with nobody leaving,” Mayor Thatcher Kezer said. “That created a huge logjam, but once the polls opened, people were able to vote and head off, then the flow improved tremendously.”

Kitchin said there were some backups and complaints, mostly due to typical election day snafus like a voter being inactive or still being registered in another community. But the fact that there was more space to work with helped resolve these situations more quickly, she said.

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