MAYVILLE - The Chautauqua County Board of Elections is making an effort to clear up voting confusion.
Beginning this fall, the county will see a reduction in total voting districts, along with an increase in polling locations. Norman P. Green and Brian C. Abram, elections commissioners, recently announced there will be 20 percent fewer county election districts. The number will be reduced from 124 to 99 total districts. Additionally, there will be five new poll sites for voters.
"The reason for the reduction in election districts is to reduce voter confusion presented by having many districts at one poll site," Abram said. "We also want to take full advantage of cost savings available to us due to new voting equipment that will accommodate a significantly higher number of voters than the old lever voting machine technology."
According to a press release, voters will be notified in late July of voting district and poll site assignments, as part of the election board's annual mail check card, which is sent to all of the county's 80,000 registered voters. A second mailing will also be sent in October to any households whose poll site has changed or moved, in order to ensure everyone is aware of the changes. There will also be two expanded notices published in The Post-Journal and The Observer in October and November.
"We want to assure voters that we have moved cautiously with election district reductions," Green said. "Brian and I are committed to a stress free voter experience on Election Day with minimal wait time to vote. "
While there will be no changes in districts and polling sites in Arkwright, Cherry Creek, town of Dunkirk, Ellington, French Creek, Harmony, Mina, North Harmony, Poland, Portland, Sherman and Villenova, there will be changes in other locations throughout the county.
The most significant changes will be in the city of Jamestown. The total number of election districts are being reduced from 24 to 19. There will be a new polling site at the Gateway Train Station, 211 Second St., which will be replacing two former sites.
According to the commissioners, the significant changes in Jamestown are related to major changes in legislature lines, as well as poll site host changes. The voters who will be affected by these changes will be notified of new poll site assignments in July, and again in October.
In Busti, town election districts are being reduced from eight down to five. The new voting location for all village of Lakewood voters, as well as some voters outside of the village's boundaries is the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, located at 35 West Fairmount Ave.
The election districts were also reduced in Carroll, from three to two. However, voters will continue to vote at the Frewsburg Fire Station.
In Charlotte, the election districts are reduced as well, from two to one. Voters will continue to vote at the Sinclairville Fire Station.
In Chautauqua, the new voting location for all town and village of Mayville voters will at the Mayville United Methodist Church, located at 81 South Erie St. Additionally, the town election districts are reduced from five to four.
Residents of Clymer will continue to vote at the Abbe Reformed Church. However, election districts in Clymer will be reduced as well, from two down to one.
Election districts in the city of Dunkirk will reduce by one, as districts go from 13 to 12. A minimal number of voters will need to be notified of new poll site assignments. According to the commissioners, changes are due to legislature reapportionment, as well as safety concerns relating to voters crossing the city train tracks to vote. However, there will be no poll site location changes in the city.
There will be no poll site changes in Ellery. but there will be a reduction in election districts, from five to three.
Due to how new legislative district lines were drawn, Ellicott is the only town in the county that will see an increase in election districts, from nine to 10. There will be a new election district poll site at Girl Scouts of WNY, 2661 Horton Rd., which will service north Ellicott voters. Celoron Village voters will also have a new poll site, which will be located at the Celoron Community Building, 47 Dunham Ave.
Voters in Gerry will continue to vote at the Gerry Fire Hall. However, elections districts will be reduced from two to one.
In Hanover, no voters will be changing poll sites, although election districts will be reduced from eight down to five.
Elections districts will be reduced from two to one in Kiantone. However, voters will continue to vote at the Kiantone Community Building. Additionally, in Pomfret, voters will continue to vote at their regular poll sites, although election districts will be reduced from 10 to eight. And, in Ripley, voters will continue to vote at Ripley Central School, although election districts are reduced from three to two.
In Sheridan, elections districts are also reduced from three to two. The Sheridan Town Community Center will remain the town's voting site. In Stockton, election districts are reduced from three to two, with voters continuing to vote at their regular poll sites. And, in Westfield, election districts are reduced from four to three. Eason Hall Auditorium will continue to be the town's poll site.
Voters can visit www.votechautauqua.com to look up their current registration information and poll site location. They may also call 753-4580 to contact the Board of Elections directly for questions.