NEWINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — There’s talk of reducing the number of polling locations from eight to three in Newington. The issue took center stage Tuesday outside the town hall.
“I am fired up today with anger at this proposal,” State Sen. Matthew Lesser (D-Middletown) said.
The proposal, presented by the registrar’s office at the last Newington Town Council meeting, would mean a savings of $38,000.
“It’s unconscionable,” Lesser said. “Five of eight of the polling places in this town would shudder under this proposal.”
There are currently just over 21,000 voters in the eight Newington voting districts — an average of 2,700 voters. The reduction would mean an average of roughly 7,100 voters per district.
Others opposed to the proposal call it voter suppression, saying it will increase lines at the polls, and that’s just the beginning.
“There would be more traffic, be more confusion,” State Rep. Gary Turco (D-Newington) said. “There’s public safety and public health concerns with putting that many people in one location.”
“My feeling is that voting is a right,” Kim Ridda, a member of Newington Town Council said. “It is not a privilege for some and a hardship for others.”
Newington Mayor Republican Beth DelBuono weighed in on the issue, saying in part:
“Conflating a proposal to reduce polling locations in Newington with suppression of voting rights is irresponsible and disrespectful to local elected leaders and our residents. Our town council is elected to do what is right for Newington and that’s exactly what we intend to do. We will review numbers of voters projected at each location and compare that to current numbers. We will assess staffing needs at each polling location as well as parking at each site. We won’t let national politics and rhetoric into our local decisions. Please be assured that we are committed to making the voting experience accessible and easy for all.”
News 8 reached out to the registrar’s office but did not immediately respond.
A public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8. A vote could be taken during that meeting.