As I discussed with Karen by phone, I have done some additional
research and found some caselaw which supports a board of
elections decision to use a church basement or annex when there
are not other public facilities available (one in 1992 in Oklahoma,
10th circuit and one in New York state in 1969).
I still think it is a good idea to try to use buildings owned by the
town (or school district) whenever possible in order to avoid
discouraging voters and to avoid any challenges.
Best Wishes to all for a good Labor Day weekend. Kathy DeWolfe
On 31 Aug 00, at 10:12, Colchester TAX wrote:
> In Colchester we have outgrown our polling place, the Colchester Meeting
> House, in District 1-1. In order to accomodate the numbers for the
> Presidential Election I have worked out a plan with the church that is
> adjacent to our Meeting House place to use the parish hall which is much
> larger and has adequate parking for the primary and general election.
> Yesterday I received a call from the Secretary of State's office. They
> received a complaint that we are using a church. I was told that the
> primary could still be held in the hall, as it has already been warned, but
> that I would have to move the November election to a diffierent site. Our
> only other option, the local school, is in session and is not available.
> My question is "Are there other communities out there that vote in
> buildings that are not owned by the municipality?"
> 17 V.S.A. Sec. 2502(a) states "Each polling place shall be located in a
> public place within the town."
> The church parish hall noted above hosts weekly AA meetings, the Girl and
> Boy Scouts and other nonsectarian groups. I feel it meets the criteria of a
> public place, but am looking for other opinions. My main concern is
> providing an adequate, safe place that can accomodate the numbers we will
> see in November, but want to do the right thing.
> Karen Richard