Lynn Chief Electoral Officer: Parking problems at school polling stations not the cause of low voter turnout
City Clerk Janet Rowe doesn’t believe the lack of parking access at Shoemaker and Harrington elementary schools on Tuesday had an effect on voter turnout in the city’s preliminary elections. (Spenser Hasak)
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LYNN The city’s election office filed complaints after Tuesday’s preliminary elections.
According to some residents, parking at the polling stations located at Shoemaker and Harrington Elementary Schools was difficult, if not impossible, to access.
Robert Russo from Lynn, emailed the Daily Item on Friday morning to say that the Shoemaker School, located at 26 Regina Road, had closed its parking lot to voters on September 14.
âAs the city knows, all the surrounding streets are reserved forâ resident parking lots â. This means if you want to vote, park far away, like I should, or risk having your car fined your car by the police, âRusso wrote.
The preliminary elections in Lynn, which decided which two mayoral candidates will qualify for the November municipal elections, only attracted 14.8% of eligible voters to polling stations.
âThe municipal and school service makes voting as difficult as possible,â Russo said.
Janet L. Rowe, city clerk and chief electoral officer, said schools have had to close their parking lots in the schoolyard for safety reasons as children use this area for recess.
Rowe had scheduled a preliminary election before the start of the school year in September in recent years. This year, she said, she had no choice with the date of the preliminary elections.
“We couldn’t hold the elections early because the date fell during Jewish holidays, and the state informed me that we couldn’t hold the elections during that time,” Rowe said in an email to the Item.
Rowe plans to ask the Lynn Teachers Union to schedule a professional day on Election Day in the future, to ensure that no children attend school. There is no school on the last day of elections, November 2 of this year.
“I don’t think that was a factor in low voter turnout,” Rowe said, citing voter turnout statistics. This year, 714 ballots were cast in Ward 1, Borough 1, where the Shoemaker School is located. There were 322 ballots cast in 2019 and 624 ballots in 2017.
In Ward 4, where voters struggled to park around Harrington School, they cast 767 ballots. In 2019 and 2017, this polling station had respectively 249 and 355 votes cast.
“I am committed, along with my staff, to helping increase voter registration and subsequently increase voter participation,” Rowe said, adding that his office had organized five events over the summer to promote the vote in the preliminaries.
Rowe said the Election Office had daily blasts on his Facebook page. In addition, she said, they will use electronic signs around the city to let it be known that October 13 is the last day to register for voters and that the final elections are held on November 2.
Alena Kuzub can be reached at [email protected].