Hoover Middle School will be the only place to vote this May in the Ken-Ton School District, at least the traditional way.
Tuesday night, the School Board voted unanimously to reduce the number of polling sites from three to one. The vote followed a public hearing during which none of the approximately three dozen people in the audience commented.
The change not only is expected to save money – perhaps $3,000 the first year and more in subsequent years – but also increase student safety. The district will continue to use off-duty police officers to provide security at the building during school hours.
The subject came up recently because voting districts within Ken-Ton were reconfigured by the Erie County Board of Elections, board President Bob Dana said, resulting in a change in polling places for some residents. Between 1998 and 2012, the Philip Sheridan Building on Elmwood Avenue and Kenmore East High School, at Brighton and Fries roads, also were polling places.
A previous School Board had expanded the number of sites in 1998, thinking it would enhance accessibility and voter turnout.
“It didn’t seem to increase voter participation,” Dana said, citing a report on voting trends. Since 2005, voter turnout typically has been less than half of what it was in 1997, the last time the only polling place was Hoover Middle School, which is on Thorncliff Road but accessible from Sheridan Drive.
The board has authorized Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro to make decisions to ensure things flow smoothly. That includes relocating faculty and staff parking on election days, if necessary, and making sure there are a sufficient number of election machines, election workers, and building and grounds personnel available to handle an expected increase in the number of voters.
The option of using absentee ballots also will be stressed to residents.
“In no way, shape or form are we looking to diminish voter participation,” Dana said.