Even though there isn’t an election for the remainder of this year, Port Washington officials announced last week they have found two new polling places for voters.
Voters in the city’s 1st and 7th districts on the city’s north side, who used to cast their ballots at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, will now vote at St. Matthew Lutheran Church.
The new location at 1525 N. Grant St. is kitty-corner from the middle school, City Administrator Mark Grams said.
Voters in the 4th, 5th and 6th districts on the city’s south side will cast ballots at Grand Avenue United Methodist Church instead of Dunwiddie Elementary School, even though the church isn’t in any of the affected voting districts.
“I really couldn’t find a facility in those districts,” Grams said, adding the church was the closest facility near the voting districts that could accommodate the elections.
The city has been searching for new polling places since the Port Washington-Saukville School District decided in February not to allow voting in its buildings beginning next year because of security concerns in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.
With two of the city’s three polling places in schools, officials scrambled to find a new place to hold elections.
City Hall, where residents of the 2nd and 3rd aldermanic districts will continue to vote, is not nearly large enough to accommodate all the city’s voters.
Schools were considered ideal places because they are large enough to accommodate large numbers of voters and are accessible for people with handicaps.
For decades, voters were welcomed in schools by officials who considered it the ultimate civics lesson for students. But with increasing violence in schools across the nation, that attitude changed.
Grams said the new polling places are large and accessible enough to accommodate voters.
“Both polling places have good parking,” he said, and they are on one level, providing easy access for voters.
The state has specific requirements for polling places regarding accessibility, he said, noting a detailed survey must be submitted before the locations are approved.
Both sites should meet the state’s requirements, Grams said.
An inspection for the state should be conducted in the next week, he said. After that, the Common Council will formally approve an ordinance and resolution declaring the two sites as polling places.