Voters wait to cast their ballots at Brunswick Junior High School in the July 2020 primary election. File photo / The Times Record

The Brunswick Town Council will decide after a public hearing next month whether to ask for the state’s OK to change the town’s polling location from the junior high school to the Recreation Center.

Some councilors have requested to the polls be moved out of the school, effective 2023, because of safety concerns for students and staff and the disruption to classes.

The primary safety concerns stemmed from parking and traffic issues at the school on election days, but that should no longer be an issue, according to Council Chairperson James Mason.

The Brunswick School Board decided recently to make election days either teacher in-service days or remote learning days so the junior high students wouldn’t be on-site during voting.

With the student safety issue now removed, Mason said the polling location should be maintained.

“Fifty percent of the town lives within one mile of the Junior High School, and 10%  lives within one mile of the Recreation Center,” he said.


“Myself and others don’t think we should make it harder to vote for the sake of parking.” He argued, “It’s likely to lead to disenfranchisement of voting.”

But Superintendent Phil Potenziano said missing a school day because of voting at the school is still disruptive for students.

“We’ve adjusted our calendar this year to accommodate voting, but that impacts our ability to provide instruction. I think everyone can agree that in-person instruction is preferable to remote learning,” Potenziano said.

School Board Chairperson Beth Bisson said “there is no uniformity in the school board’s position” aside from the stance that should voting continue at the school, students will not be present on those days.

“My own children love school and would be disappointed to have school closed for a day,” Bisson said.

“Of course, as a board member, the safety and educational support of students is the highest priority, but as a community member I hope that whatever decision is taken, it will not be harder for community members to vote,” she said.

Seven polling locations in town were consolidated at the junior high about 10 years ago, according to the Town Clerk’s Office.

If the Town Council votes after a public hearing Sept. 6 for a change in the polling location, the plan must be approved by the Maine Secretary of State’s Office.

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