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Clinton County Voters Confused Over Polling Place   (NY)

WPTZ 5    10 September 2008

BLACK BROOK, N.Y. Some North Country voters scrambled to cast their ballots after discovering their polling place wasn't open.

The town of Black Brook used to have three voting districts, but for Tuesday's primary election, the Clinton County Board of Elections combined the districts into one location.

Some voters said it just didn't work and said they were confused after elections officials sent them to wrong polling place, NewsChannel 5's Heather van Arsdel reported.

"I came here to vote in the primary elections (and) there's no voting machine here," said Jason Sedgwick, a voter.

Sedgwick says he was just doing what he was told.

"I received (a notice) from the Clinton County Board of Elections a couple weeks back. They told me to come here to Douglas's Restaurant on Silver Lake Road. So, this is where I showed up to vote but there's no voting machine," Sedgwick said.

Some elections officials said they were upset after the board closed two polling districts, making the main polling location Ausable Forks, which is located almost 20 minutes away. Some said voters are not willing to drive that far to cast their ballots.

"People with fixed incomes are not going to drive that far to vote, so they are going to lose their votes," said Leroy Douglas, a voter.

"To make them drive long distances to vote, it really discriminates against people that live in rural communities," Black Brook Councilman Howard Aubin said.

Clinton County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner John Brunell said Black Brook is not being singled out and that several of Clinton County's districts were combined in an effort to save money.

"It saves money for all the taxpayers because we don't need two inspectors for each district on both sides plus all the custodial work to set up all the machines," Brunell said.

Brunell admitted there was a problem, saying the cards that the county sent to voters were confusing. Brunell said the dates for the primary printed on the cards were correct, but the polling place locations printed on the cards are for the November general election.

"It said Sept 9. Yeah, it confused some people. I think we'll have to change the wording," Brunell said.

The commissioner's sentiment left little comfort for Sedgwick, who said he'll be back to cast his ballot for the general election but on Tuesday, he didn't have a voice in the process.

"I'm going to go home and I'm not going to drive the extra mileage to go to Ausable Forks to vote. So, I guess I won't be able to afford to cast my vote," Sedgwick said.

Officials suggest an absentee ballot for those who can't make it to the polls this November. Brunell also said that voters who need a ride to the polls can call the Clinton County Board of Elections for help.

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