Friday, October 20, 2000
Selectmen plan for election day crowd
Concerned that the Town Hall parking lot will not easily accommodate the number of voters expected to turn out for the November 7 presidential election, the selectmen asked town clerk Sarah Andreassen for her opinion. According to Andreassen, 2,693 voters turned out in the last presidential election (1996), and over 3,000 can be expected this year due to growth in voter registration. Two years ago, when 2,087 voters turned out, there was a traffic jam in the Town Hall parking lot. Cutting back an island in that lot, which used to prevent cars from entering and exiting concurrently, has helped.
In considering possible alternative sites for polling, the school was dismissed because that lot is always full before 9 a.m., the time when there is the greatest influx of voters. According to Andreassen, a non-public building could be considered, but it would have to be inspected and approved, and there may not be enough time for that. Because Carlisle is all in one precinct, all voting must take place in one location.
If voting must be done at Town Hall, selectman Vivian Chaput suggested encouraging voters to park elsewhere and walk. "After all, we have a pathway now." This, combined with a plan to have town employees park off-site that day, could alleviate if not solve the problem. The selectmen agreed to a preliminary plan which would entail holding the elections at Town Hall while encouraging absentee and off-hour voting and carpooling. Anyone voting in the evening will be encouraged to bring a flashlight, in case they have to park some distance away. Additional police will be posted in the parking lot and on Westford Street to keep traffic moving.
In the long-term, a second "emergency exit" from the parking lot, which was never constructed due to wetlands concerns, might be reconsidered in a different location. Also, it is likely that the ten-year census, just concluded, will require splitting Carlisle into two districts, making a second polling place a possibility.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito