p-pollingplaces City closes 2 island polling sites, consolidates others

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PORTLAND — Voters on Cliff Island or Great Diamond Island will have to get to the mainland to cast election ballots from now on.
The decision to close the two island polling sites was made Monday night by the City Council. The recommendation was one of several that came from a Polling Place Task Force. The council also approved consolidation of mainland polling places and new precinct lines.
For the next election, there will be 11 city polling places, instead of 16. There will be two polling places in each district, plus a polling site on Peaks Island.
Voters in District 1 will vote at either the East End School or Merrill Auditorium. East Bayside and Old Port residents will now go to Merrill, along with residents from Cliff and Great Diamond islands. 
District 2 already has just two polling places, but the precinct line was adjusted so more voters will go to the Portland Expo instead of Reiche School, where voter turnout historically is much higher.
In District 3, voters will go to Woodfords Church instead of the Barron Center and Temple Beth El.
The Presumpscot School is no longer a polling place for District 4. Instead, voters will be split between St. Pius Church and First Baptist Church.
District 5 voters will now go to either the University of New England Westbrook College Campus or Grace Baptist Church instead of Central Baptist Church and Riverton School.
Councilors voted 7-2 to consolidate polling places and close the two island sites. At-large Councilor John Anton and Councilor Kevin Donoghue, who represents the islands, opposed closing the island polling places.
“The cost-benefit in terms of our stewardship of island communities – I think this sends a poor message,” said Anton, who compared closing the polling places to closing other island institutions, like the post office or school.
The city expects to save about $1,200 per election as a result of the island polling place changes.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net.