Gloversville Common Council rejects Fulton County Board of Elections proposal to realign wards

Voters in voting booths

Voters fill out ballots inside the Senior Citizens Service Center of Gloversville & Fulton County on Nov. 8.

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The Gloversville Common Council Tuesday night rejected a proposal by the Fulton County Board of Elections to change the city’s 4th and 6th wards in order to allow every ward in the city to have at least one polling location.

Democratic Election Commissioner Robert Galinsky made a presentation to the council at the opening of the meeting. He said although Gloversville still has six election precincts, each with its own polling place, none of them are currently located in the 6th Ward.

“We think that every ward should vote at a polling site within their ward,” he said.

Galinsky explained that Gloversville’s 6th Ward voters have been without a ward-based polling location since the residents of Kingsboro Towers voted during the coronavirus pandemic to bar the county from locating an election precinct there, prior to the 2021 local elections.

He said the county moved the 6th Ward election precinct that year to the Senior Citizens Service Center of Gloversville & Fulton County, just behind Kingsboro, but located just within the 4th Ward. Galinsky said the Senior Center did not have enough room to accommodate voters from both wards, which forced the county to temporarily relocate 6th Ward voters for the 2022 midterm elections to the Dubois Garden Apartment Complex, nearly a mile away at 181 West St., also located in the 4th Ward.

Galinsky said voters at Kingsboro Towers have complained about having to travel to Dubois Garden, prompting the BOE to propose the change in ward configuration. The proposal included moving Kingsboro into Ward 4.

“The only solution that we could come up with was to move a little bit of Ward 4 into Ward 6 and a little bit of Ward 6 into Ward 4,” he said. “Then, the Senior Center would be the [Ward 4] polling site, and the people in the [Kingsboro Towers] would only have to walk across the street to vote, just like the people at Forest Hill Towers would just have to go to the Family Counseling Center polling site, right across the street.”

Galinsky said he had no election maps to show the Common Council Tuesday night, but he said, in essence, the county BOE would like the city to move Kingsboro Towers into the 4th Ward, and move an equal number of registered 4th Ward voters into Ward 6.

“No, elected representative, either on the council or the Board of Supervisors, would be effected by the move, and would suddenly be living in a new ward,” he said.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Ellen Anadio was interested in seeing a map of Ward 4 under the proposed plan, but Galinsky was only able to say he would show her if he had any, which he did not.

Sixth Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski provided an alternative.

“Why can’t you take Ward 4, and do it in the Senior Center and find an alternative place within Ward 6,” Siarkowski said.

“If somebody could find a place within Ward 6 that’s suitable, I wouldn’t object to that,” Galinsky said.

First Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss asked about using a school as a location.

Galinsky said when the schools are in session they can’t be used for elections. He said it’s not easy to find suitable locations for polling places.

“Remember, the place has to be handicap accessible, and you have to get the permission of the people [in charge of the site],” he said. “With what I’ve told you we’re suggesting, we cannot realign wards. That’s not our job, we’re just suggesting. That’s up to you folks.”

“I think it would be easier to find a polling place for Ward 6,” Siarkowski said. “Ward 6 is currently going to Ward 4 anyway, so why can’t we move Ward 6 to Dubois and keep the Senior Center for Ward 4, which would be Kingsboro Towers, right next door.”

“I would think so,” 2nd Ward Councilman Art Simonds agreed with Siarkowski.

“Maybe we should discuss this with Ward 4 and Ward 6 people, so they can agree,” Anadio said.

Galinsky said the BOE is open to suggestions, but the feedback it’s received so far indicates Gloversville voters would prefer each ward have its own polling locations.

“But it’s not now,” Siarkowski said. “I think the simplest thing would be to find a polling place for Ward 6, and then nothing else gets moved.”

“I know, but that’s one of the reasons we want to adjust things,” Galinsky said.

Anadio and Siarkowski both said they’d prefer a solution that didn’t involve moving voters between their respective wards.

“The best place would be the new DPW garage in Ward 6,” Siarkowski suggested. “I think there’s adequate room at the old [Wood and Hyde tannery at 47 10th Ave.] for polling, do you agree or disagree?”

DPW Director Donald Schwartz asked how many times his department’s new garage, once completed, would be needed for voting. Members of the council said at most twice per year, once for political party primaries and then for the general election in November.

Siarkowski said he would prefer the city not change its wards and simply wait until the garage is available for voting.

“Right now, we should move Ward 6 [voting] to Dubois and Ward 4 goes back to the Senior Center, and then nobody else has to move,” Siarkowski said.

Mayor Vince DeSantis and Councilwoman Weiss agreed.

After the meeting, Galinsky said he wasn’t surprised that the council was not receptive to the suggestion of changing the wards. He said the BOE will likely follow the council’s suggestion with respect to where to put the polling precincts until the garage is available.

Categories: -News-, Fulton Montgomery Schoharie

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