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Your Turn NH: Merrimack is no one-horse town; it deserves more polling sites

November 25. 2012 6:24PM

Merrimack's recent distinction as the largest single voting location in the country is a dubious distinction at best!

Upon reading that Merrimack voters would be forced into one voting location - the only access to which is through one long straw coming in and out - 15,000-plus voters were required to head to only one voting location. I knew a month ago this had disaster written all over it.

While town officials are patting themselves on the back about the "success" of this debacle, they need to be reminded that they work for us, we the people. What may have been a "convenience factor" of working out of one location, turned into traffic gridlock in town.

Thankfully, there were no major emergencies because fire and police department personnel would have been unable to move. Traffic inched along over miles of roads, all converging toward one single destination for most of the day.

How many people gave up and didn't vote? I saw cars turning out of long lines that were crawling along at best.

I had to laugh upon hearing town officials report on "how smoothly" things went once inside the voting location, and that there were very few complaints. Really? Who were they talking to - each other? Facebook had lots of complaints from residents about the absolute gridlock. I haven't spoken with anyone who thought this was a good idea.

While a single voting location may work for primaries where as few as 3,000 people turnout, it was a nightmare for the presidential election, especially in a year where record voter turnout was to be expected.

Shame on you, Merrimack. You can and should do better.

We've paid for multiple, hugely expensive school facilities, and what was wrong with St. John Neumann Church location anyway? The town's own planning board would NEVER approve a business to have 15,000 cars in one day with that kind of access.

Sadly, we did better managing an outlet opening than we did protecting one's sovereign right to vote in Merrimack.

We are NOT a one-horse town, and you now have four years to plan for the next presidential election. We, the people, expect to have options for voting poll locations elsewhere. There is no excuse not to!

Donna Bailey is a Merrimack resident.

Elections Guest Commentary Merrimack

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