WELLSVILLE — With election season fast approaching, many Wellsville residents will have a new polling place as they cast their ballots in the next few months.
The Allegany County Board of Elections is consolidating its polling places in Wellsville, which features five voting districts — two in the town, and three in the village.
In the past, village voters have cast ballots at the Wellsville Legion, at the High School, or at Crosstown Alliance Church. Beginning with the Sept. 13 primary, voters in District I and District III will both be congregating at the Crosstown Alliance Church location just off Bolivar Road behind Tops.
Democratic Elections Commissioner Mike McCormick reported the change to the Wellsville Town Board at this week’s meeting.
“As a Board of Elections, we’re really not comfortable in the schools anymore due to security issues,” McCormick said. “We thought it might be a good idea to move District I and III to the Crosstown Alliance Church, where we already have a poll site.”
District I voters previously cast their ballots at the high school. McCormick noted that the school was still willing to host a polling place, but the space in the lobby was not ideal in terms of voter privacy.
“As a commissioner, when I go in there on election day the inspectors are lined up against an open corridor. You walk in and sign your poll book, but the election machine is off to the side. You’re not really in a private setting when you cast your ballot,” McCormick said. “It’s worked, but it’s not ideal. There’s square footage there, but it’s kind of linear.”
Town board member Patricia Graves, a former elections inspector, compared the merging of polling places to Cuba, where the Cuba Grange hosts two districts with just over 1,800 combined voters. Crosstown Alliance Church will be hosting about 1,700 eligible voters between District I and District III.
“In Cuba it worked well,” Graves said. “There was two different tables for each district, and it worked really well.”
The number of total voting districts won’t change, just the location for District I voters. McCormick said the Crosstown Alliance location should be able to handle the increase without any issues.
“They’ve been real good willing partners for us,” McCormick said. “We have similar poll sites with a similar amount of voters in the Cuba Grange. The entire Cuba District I and II votes in that grange. It’s about the same size as Crosstown Alliance. There’s ample parking over there. It’s up to us now to inform the voters. We’ll send out postcards.”
The change will result in a small monetary savings for the town, McCormick reported.
“We’re thankful you brought this to us so you could explain it,” said Town Supervisor Shad Alsworth.
The new format will receive its first test on Primary Day Sept. 13, featuring the Republican primary for Allegany County Sheriff, the Democratic primary for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, and the Reform Party primary for attorney general.
“It will be a busy day,” McCormick said. “We’ll have to see what the turnout is going to be.”
In other business, the board approved a BAN for a 2019 Mack truck for $225,504.60 over a five-year term.
The board also signed an agreement for engineering on the runway rehab design project at the Wellsville Municipal Airport, contingent upon the town attorney reviewing the agreement and ensuring the town has options in the event the work is unsatisfactory.
The board noted updates to the town website and also explored possibly applying for grant funding to update the animal shelter in the future.
Highway Superintendent Dean Arnold reported work on the fuel farm is nearly complete.