For the first time in decades, Ticonderoga voters will have a new polling site in 2012.
Local residents will cast their ballots at the Ticonderoga Middle School auditorium this year. Voting had been at the Ticonderoga fire house for years.
“It’s a really wonderful space,” said Robert “Chooch” Pell-deChame of Ticonderoga, Essex County Democratic election commissioner. “There is plenty of space for setting up the voting booths and tables for the inspectors.
“I think people are going to like the new site,” he added. “It’s very easy to reach, it’s handicap accessible, has great parking and is a site a lot of people are very familiar with.”
Voting had been at the Ti fire house for as long as Pell-deChame and others can remember. However, the Ticonderoga Fire District board of fire commissioners earlier this year notified the Essex County Board of Elections the fire house would no longer be available for voting.
“It’s going to be a very busy year and the fire commissioners expressed concern that voting could conflict with some of their events at the fire house,” Pell-deChame said.
Paul LaRock, secretary of the Ticonderoga Fire District Board of Commissioners, said the decision to remove the polls from the fire house is because voting has interfered with firefighting operations in the past.
“It has interrupted our operations,” LaRock said of voting. “We’ve had people park in front of the bay doors making it difficult, if not impossible, to get our trucks out in an emergency. We have to be certain we can respond to keep our taxpayers covered and safe.”
There were also concerns with the condition election inspectors left in the fire house.
“To be honest, they didn’t clean up after themselves,” LaRock said. “We’ve have to have someone come in and clean up the place after every election.”
The county pays $280 for use of a polling site during each election. LaRock said that rent didn’t even pay to heat the building during elections, not to mention cleaning it.
There will be four different elections in 2012. There will be Republican presidential primary vote April 24, a federal primary June 26, a state-wide primary Sept. 11 and the general election Nov. 6.
Ti school officials have agreed to allow voting in the April and June primaries at the middle school.
“The school has given the go-ahead for the primaries in April and June,” John McDonald, Ti school superintendent, said. “In April, the polls are open starting at noon, so there will be very little disruption to the school day. The polling will take place in the auditorium, which can be isolated from the rest of the building. The June primary will take place after school is out, so there should not be any issues.
“We will evaluate things after these two primaries and then decide whether to make this a permanent solution,” McDonald said.
All six of Ticonderoga voting districts will move to the Ticonderoga Middle School polling location, Pell-deChame said.
“It’s just a change in site, nothing else,” the election commissioner stressed. “Everything else will remain exactly the same. There are no changes in districts. It should be a smooth transition.”
Voters will be notified by mail of the change in polling site, Pell-deChame said. He and Derinda Sherman, Republican election commissioner, will also post notices in local media to inform people of the change.
After learning the Ti fire house would no longer be available, election officials toured several locations in the community seeking an alternative polling place.
“We looked at several other sites,” Pell-deChame said. “There were issues with space, access, parking. We didn’t want to break Ti into separate polling places. We wanted to keep everything the same, if possible. We wanted to make the change without disturbing voters.”
Pell-deChame is confident voters will be satisfied with the Ticonderoga Middle School as a polling site.
“It’s a perfect space, perfect for voting,” he said. “I don’t anticipate any problems at all.”