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Ellington Superintendent Requests That Voting be Moved Out of Schools

Superintendent of Schools Stephen Cullinan cites safety as the main reason for the request.

Ellington Superintendent of Schools Stephen Cullinan recently came before the Board of Selectmen at a recent meeting and asked them to think about moving voting out of Ellington High School and Crystal Lake School.

According to Cullinan, his request is based upon safety, which seems particularly timely in light of the tragedy in Newtown.

Cullinan told the board that all of the Ellington schools have buzzer systems - and have for a while - and that when the voting is taking place, the doors are unlocked and the buzzer system is not in place. He also said that while a constable might be on site, he can only be in one place at a time.

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Cullinan also noted that the security of the polling place must be maintained.
Traffic flow, parking, campaign volunteers, media, and candidates were also things to consider. Early voters arrive at same time buses are loading and unloading and parents picking up and dropping off compete with voters.

“Voters of all ages and various driving abilities will be seeking limited parking while negotiating the flow of students and buses,” Cullinan said.

Cullinan noted that there have never been any issues, but there is always the possibility.

According to Cullinan, the school calendar was adjusted and that the schools run a professional development day the day of the election in November. However, that doesn’t cover all the other times the schools are used.

“I can control one day, but I can’t keep kids out of school every time there happens to be an election,” Cullinan said.

Should another storm like the October Snowstorm or Hurricane Sandy happen near an election, there could also be the issues of power loss and the use of Ellington High School as a shelter

Cullinan told the board that where he lives, they only vote in a school for the presidential election. In his opinion, a setup like that would even be better

“If it’s once every four years instead of a few times each year, that would even be a help,” he said.

Cullinan said that he doesn’t know the answer to this question, but that it is his responsibility to bring it up.

“I know the solution is not easy,” he said. “Our request is that you take a look and see if there are other things that can be done.”

First Selectman Maurice Blanchette brought up the point that this problem will only get worse – as the town grows and the number of voters increases
Selectman Leo Miller agreed that something may need to be done.

“I think this deserves some serious consideration and planning on our part,” he said.

Gil V December 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Not a very thoughtful idea. in my opinion, but I would support it in conjunction with the implementation of early voting.
Dan Keune December 20, 2012 at 12:36 PM
It should be noted that the Ellington BOE made the same request a few years ago, and again about a month ago. We are concerned about security, this is not a reaction to recent events, but a concern in preventing future ones.
Dan Keune December 20, 2012 at 12:54 PM
FYI, early Voting was discussed with our Reps at the last BOE meeting. I assure you that the Voting in the schools is a security nightmare.
Michael Young December 20, 2012 at 08:18 PM
We are building a new Senior Center perhaps there is a chance that facility might ease the burden of housing voting on the schools.
Gil V December 20, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Dan - can you elaborate on the difficulties presented by having elections held at the school? I'm sensitive to the concerns (as anyone would be right now), but I am completely naive about the problem. Elections at the school are so smooth (from the perspective of a voter) that I have to profess ignorance about possible security issues. Thanks!

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