The following was submitted by Lisa Marie Smith.
What is up with the way the voting districts are divided?
I've lived in Salem for just shy of two years now and [Thursday night] would have been my first time voting here in Salem...had my polling place not moved.
I do understand the need to occassionally break up areas to ensure a fair demographic balance but this re-districting makes no sense.
My polling place used to be St. John's on St. Peter's Street, which is essentially across the street from where I live.
I went to St. John's [Thursday night] to vote and was told that my section of Bridge Street was now districted for Mack Park. It was frustrating because I don't know where Mack Park is and when one of the volunteers began explaining how to get there it was just too many steps in terms of driving directions. I would have had to go back home, get my car, then sort out how to get to Mack Park. By this time it was after 7:30 p.m. I work in Boston, and take commuter rail back home. It had been a long day. I just wanted to vote and go home.
The volunteers at the check-in desk said I was not the first frustrated Bridge Street resident they had encountered. Today, in thinking back, I vaguely recall getting some sort of mailing about Mack Park, but that was months ago. Would it not have made sense to send out a "Your Polling Place Is..." reminder prior to the election, especially if this was the first election after the polling places had been redistricted? I'm originally from Connecticut, the Registrar of Voters office, at least in my town, would send out reminders to vote with your polling place clearly noted so you would have time to find your new polling place had there been a chance. I'm sure that people will place the burden of voting place confirmation on me, and yes, in a way they are correct, I should have double-checked. But that isn't the issue. The issue is the ridiculous re-districting.
Of course I'll sort out where Mack Park is before the Presidential election but if Salem has reports of low voter turnout this might be a contributing factor, at least for the ward in which I currently live.
To whom should I, or any other Bridge Street resident, address a complaint about this issue? To re-district me and many others right out of a polling place that is, for all intents and purposes, right across the street is not a well-thought out move. Thank you.
Lisa Marie Smith