Precinct 12, in which we live, usually votes at the Runkle School along with precinct 13. With the Runkle School renovation project starting soon, we're going to have to vote in some other location for the next few years. The question is, where? The Town Clerk suggested that precinct 12 move to the Driscoll School and precinct 13 move to the Heath School, but there's been some discussion as to whether or not that's the best move.
Both the Brookline TAB and Brookline Patch called me up and asked for my opinion as a Town Meeting Member from precinct 12. Relying on fair use, I'm quoting the parts of the articles that mention me below, but including links for people who want to read the articles.
From Brookline TAB: Brookline neighbors wary of proposed polling place switch:
“It doesn’t make sense to put three precincts at Driscoll,” said Michael Burstein, a Town Meeting member from Precinct 12.
Adding to the concerns is making a switch before the Sept. 14 primary, which could lead to confusion for Runkle voters who arrive at the polls to find their polling place is in another location, said Burstein. He suggested that the change be made in time for the November election, and leave the existing polling places where they are for the coming primary.
From Brookline Patch: Some Worry Poll Moves Could Hurt Voter Turnout:
But Michael Burstein, a Town Meeting member from Precinct 12, worries that have precincts 11, 12 and 13 at Driscoll could prove chaotic.
"It does seem to me that having three precincts voting in one location might be logistically problematic," he said. "But I don't know for sure."
And for now, residents can't even agree on when the switch should occur. While Fischer wants the move delayed until May so a better solution can be found, Burstein agues that making the move between the September and November elections would allow officials to inform more people about the change – especially considering next May's vote will be an off-year town election, which typically sees low voter turnout anyhow.
"If we establish the new polling place in November, you're reaching the greatest number of people and reminding them," he said. "It seems to me that if you hold off on switching the polling place until next May, you'll probably have a hard time informing people – and you might even see lower turnout."
So now you know where you stand. In my opinion, we should stay at Runkle for the September primary and pass out flyers to all voters informing them of the change to a new polling place in November. Precinct 12 should move to Driscoll, and if the town can work out the logistics, I suppose it would be fine for precinct 13 to move there as well.
One thing that didn't get mentioned in all this is that the Dean Road bridge is under repair, making it harder for people who might drive to Runkle in September to navigate the roads. If we stay at Runkle for next month's primary, perhaps the town ought to post alternate driving directions on the town website.
If you don't live in Brookline, but you've read this far, consider this post, as always, to be a window into the machinations of one New England town.