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City polling places getting a look

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Fredericksburg’s Electoral Board is inviting city voters to offer their thoughts on the location of polling places as a result of a request during the just-completed municipal elections, board member Amanda McGrady said.

The issue arose in mid-March when Ward 4 City Council candidate Charlie “Chuck” Frye Jr. asked the board for a temporary site for his May 6 race.

He was concerned about voters in Precinct 402 who live west of the Fall Hill Avenue canal bridge-replacement project.

Frye didn’t want them inconvenienced by the detour that requires them to travel an extra five miles to reach their precinct location at VFW Post 3103, located at 2701 Princess Anne St.

He provided the registrar with a petition containing signatures of people living in that area.

The Electoral Board met to discuss Frye’s request in April but could not grant it because state law does not allow for temporary polling places, only emergency ones, McGrady said. His request did not meet the legal definition of an emergency.

Frye won the race and will take office in July.

The Electoral Board will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall to hear comments from voters living anywhere in the city and to provide information about why the polls are in their current locations, McGrady said.

“We do not have the sense that people are unhappy, but we want to give people the opportunity to comment,” she said.

The three-member Electoral Board won’t make any decisions on Tuesday. However, it will meet on May 28 at noon in the Voter Registrar’s Office to discuss any suggestions offered on Tuesday, and to consider whether changes are warranted.

“Polling places are very important and if anybody ever feels they don’t have access, we want to know about it,” McGrady said.

If the Electoral Board believes a change is warranted, it will notify the City Council and then appear at a council meeting with a formal request.

The City Council has the authority to change polling places. Any change requires an amendment to the city ordinance.

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

The last time a change was made was about nine years ago when the council approved relocating Precinct 401 from the Original Walker–Grant Middle School site to New City Fellowship Church, McGrady said.

She said that was prompted by concerns about the Walker–Grant building.

The Fall Hill Avenue detour at the Rappahannock Canal went into effect on Feb. 12 as construction of a new bridge over the Rappahannock Canal began. That work isn’t expected to be finished until late November.

Motorists must travel through Central Park and along Cowan Boulevard and U.S. 1 to get from one side of the canal to the other.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972

pgould@freelancestar.com

WANT TO GO?

Fredericksburg’s Electoral Board will meet Tuesday to gather public input on city polling places.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers of City Hall, 715 Princess Anne St.

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