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City can’t add polling place for May election

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Ward 4 residents won’t get an additional polling place for Fredericksburg’s May 6 elections despite a detour some voters must endure to cast their votes.

The Fredericksburg Electoral Board met Tuesday morning to consider a request from Ward 4 candidate Charlie Frye Jr. to add another polling place for this year’s elections because of the closure of Fall Hill Avenue at the Rappahannock Canal that began on Feb. 12 and is expected to be in place through at least mid-November.

The law does not allow for a temporary polling place and there isn’t time before the May 6 city elections to make a change, said Amanda McGrady, the city Electoral Board’s secretary.

By law, only the City Council can establish polling places, she said.

However, the issue isn’t over.

The Electoral Board will reconvene on Friday at 10 a.m. at the city registrar’s office to further discuss options.

Afterward, the board could forward information to the council with its recommendation, McGrady said.

The board could decide to recommend adding a third precinct in Ward 4, moving the one currently located at VFW Post 3103, or doing nothing, she said.

But the recommendation won’t impact the May 6 election or a Republican primary on June 10 because there isn’t sufficient time to act.

McGrady said 60 days are needed to notify voters of any change.

The earliest election a change could be in place would be for the Nov. 4 races for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Frye delivered a letter to local election officials on March 21 asking for a different polling place for people living west of the detour.

Fall Hill Avenue is closed at the canal to replace the bridge. As a result, motorists have a 5-mile detour to get from one side of the canal to the other.

Without a polling place on the western side of the canal, voters will need to drive that extra distance to get to their current polling place at VFW Post 3103, 2701 Princess Anne St.

Frye has said he wanted to make sure voters west of the Fall Hill Avenue closure weren’t hindered from voting.

Ward 4 stretches from Celebrate Virginia South through downtown and along Dixon Street. The other polling place is at New City Fellowship Church near the downtown train station.

An emergency polling place isn’t possible because those are only established in the event of unforeseen situations, McGrady said.

Marcel Kay, Frye’s campaign manager, said they were “very disappointed” with the outcome.

He also said they feel the city “dropped the ball” by not taking the issue into account in its planning for the road project.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972


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