At a recent county board of elections meeting, Ellenburg Supervisor Dave Leonard was directed to ask the town board if they would close some polling places to help save money.
One plan put forth by the board of elections was to cut the schoolhouse in Merrill from the list of polling places.
Leonard said that in his campaigning for office, he found that the people of Merrill didn't always feel like they were part of the town, though they and the Upper Chateaugay Lake community pay about 40 percent of town taxes.
“They feel disenfranchised,” he said. “That schoolhouse gives them a sense of identity.”
Town resident Betty Bulriss wasn't happy about closing polling places.
“They've already talked about closing the post office. If we lose much more, we may as well move out of town,” she said.
“There's a first step to everything,” said Town Board Member Dennis Trombley.
Starting to close polling places might hasten future decisions that take from the identity of Ellenburg's communities, he added.
Leonard felt much the same way, and the board decided the expense of keeping their polling places open was secondary to community identity and ability to vote.
Leonard said that before the town meeting, he didn't think the board of election's proposal would be well-received by the town. Places like the Town of Plattsburgh have many polling places, and closing one or two isn't such a problem.
“They don't have 107 square miles of town,” said Leonard.
The schoolhouse there is also an important part of the town's culture, said Leonard. In a modern age of electronic everything, “I don't think there's any harm in maintaining some traditions.”