Local Government and Politics, News

Lynn Elections chief: Parking issues at school polling locations not cause of low voter turnout

This article was published 1 year(s) and 8 month(s) ago.

City Clerk Janet Rowe does not believe that lack of parking access at Shoemaker and Harrington elementary schools on Tuesday had an effect on voter turnout in the city's preliminary elections. (Spenser Hasak)

LYNN ― The city’s Elections Office has been fielding some complaints after the preliminary elections on Tuesday.

According to some residents, parking at the polls located at Shoemaker and Harrington elementary schools were difficult, if not impossible, to access..

Robert Russo of Lynn, emailed the Daily Item Friday morning to say that Shoemaker School, located at 26 Regina Road, had shut its parking lot for voters on Sept. 14. 

“As the city knows, all of the streets around are “resident parking only.” That means if you want to vote you either park far away, as I had to, or risk having the police ticket your car,” wrote Russo.

Preliminary elections in Lynn, which decided the two mayoral candidates who will be moving forward to the city election in November, drew only 14.8 percent of eligible voters to the polling stations.

“The City and School Department is making it as difficult as possible to vote,” said Russo.

Janet L. Rowe, city clerk and elections chief, said that the schools had to close off their parking lots in the school yard out of safety concerns because children use that area for recess.

Rowe had scheduled preliminary elections before school began in September for the last few years. This year, she said, she had no choice with the date for the preliminary election.

“We could not have the election early since the date fell during the Jewish holidays, and the state informed me that we could not hold the elections during that time,” said Rowe in an email to the Item. 

Rowe plans to request the Lynn Teachers Union to schedule a professional day on election day in the future, to ensure that no children are in the school. There is no school on the final election day, Nov. 2, this year. 

“I do not believe this was a factor in low voter turnout,” Rowe said, citing turnout statistics. This year 714 ballots were cast in Ward 1, precinct one, where Shoemaker School is located. There were 322 ballots cast in 2019, and 624 ballots in 2017.

In Ward 4, where voters had a hard time parking around Harrington School, they cast 767 ballots. In 2019 and 2017, that polling location had 249 and 355 votes cast, respectively.

“I am committed, along with my staff, to help increase voter registration and to subsequently increase voter participation,” Rowe said, adding that her office held five events over the summer to promote voting in the preliminaries. 

Rowe said the Elections Office is doing daily blasts on their Facebook page. In addition, she said, they will be utilizing electronic signs in the city to spread the word that Oct. 13 is the last day to register to vote and that the final election is on Nov. 2.

Alena Kuzub can be reached at akuzub@itemlive.com.

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