The Brunswick Town Council voted 6-3 Tuesday to move the town’s polling location from the Junior High School to the Recreation Center at Brunswick Landing, starting in June 2023.

The vote followed much debate from the public and councilors about whether the relocation would make it easier or more difficult for residents to vote.

Council Chairperson James Mason was staunchly opposed to the move.

“There are few things I’ve experienced on this council that have made me feel disappointed in the council,” Mason said. “I feel this action is going to make voting worse for Brunswick Mainers.”

District 2 Councilor Stephen Walker agreed.

“I don’t think anyone could honestly say this makes voting easier. With all that’s going on in this chapter of American history, I can’t fathom making the public vote less convenient or less easy,” Walker said.


Meagan Sway, policy director at the ACLU of Maine, and Sen. Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, told the council that accessibility to the polls was their main concern. The Recreation Center is about 4 miles from the center of town where the majority of Brunswick’s population is concentrated.

“The only reason many people can participate in voting is because they can walk to the polls,” Daughtry said, noting she was specifically concerned for unhoused voters and those without transportation.

At-large Councilor Kathy Wilson, who supported the move, said public transportation is an option for people to get to the Recreation Center. And, she said, with housing projects in development around Brunswick Landing, more residents will soon move there. Other councilors echoed those arguments as well.

Wilson said she was more concerned about the traffic that tends to clog the Junior High School’s parking lot on voting days and the inaccessibility of the gym entrance that has historically been used by voters.

Rep. Poppy Arford, D-Brunswick, said she was concerned about gun laws. State law makes it illegal to carry a firearm into a school building. Moving the site out of the junior high would allow people to legally carry firearms into the polls at the Recreation Center, she said.

But District 4 Councilor Sande Updegraph, who supported the change, said she didn’t like the idea of adults who may have any violent intentions entering the school building, even if students are not in the building on election days.


District 5 Councilor Christopher Watkinson, also in support of the relocation, said having residents cast ballots at the school leads to the potential of adding a remote learning day for those students, which could result in some going without lunch that day.

Following public comment, District 6 Councilor Kate Foye proposed tabling the vote on the move until after the November elections to prevent confusion about where the polls will be located this year. Her proposal was rejected.

Councilors later unanimously voted to expand voting for the upcoming Nov. 8 election to the Coffin School, in addition to the Junior High School. Most said they would support two permanent polling locations in the future if that proposal came before the council.

They also emphasized that the Town Hall will have extended hours leading up to the election so that residents may vote early if they choose.


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