FULTON COUNTY — The Fulton County Board of Supervisors voted 19-1 last week to approve a plan to change election polling sites in the cities of Johnstown and Gloversville along with the towns of Mayfield and Oppenheim.
The four-part plan was recommended by the Fulton County Board of Elections and includes these components:
- The election polling sites in the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown will now have one election district per ward, six for Gloversville and four for Johnstown.
- Election districts in the Town of Mayfield will be re-aligned so that the Village of Mayfield will now be entirely within District 4.
- The Town of Oppenheim’s polling site will be moved from its Senior Citizens Center to its town hall.
- In the city of Gloversville, the Ward 1 polling site previously located at Forest Hill Towers will be moved to the Family Counseling Center at 11-21 Broadway; the Ward 4 polling site will be moved from Kingsboro Towers to Dubois Garden, 181 West St.; and the Ward 3 polling site will be moved from Boulevard Elementary School to the Gloversville Recreation Center, 24 3rd Ave.
Gloversville Fourth Ward Supervisor Charles Potter voted against the plan to change polling sites, in part because he doesn’t like the idea of permanently changing the location of the Ward 4 polling site from Kingsboro Towers to Dubois Garden.
“What’s the justification for Ward 4?” Potter asked before the Board voted on the plan. “[That’s the] Ward I represent. [What justifies this] moving from Kingsboro Towers to the extremity of the Ward 4 boundary at Dubois Gardens?”
“The only explanation I recall is that the [Gloversville] Housing Authority (GHA) is no longer letting them use Kingsboro Towers, and they didn’t think they’d let them use it out into the future, is what I recall,” Fulton County Administrator Jon Stead said.
“Well that’s true, but the Gloversville Housing Authority also runs Dubois, so it’s the same outfit,” Potter said.
Stead said he’s not certain when the last time was that the GHA allowed Kingsboro Towers to be used as a polling station, but he believes it was before the coronavirus pandemic.
During the November 2021 elections, there was no polling station allowed at Kingsboro Towers. However, Potter said he believes the community room inside Kingsboro Towers was allowed to be used as a polling location during the 2020 presidential election, even though the residents of the tower were prohibited from using the community room for other purposes because of New York state Dept. of Health COVID-19 mandates.
Potter said he thinks it’s a mistake to move the polling station out of the towers and into Dubois Gardens located at the outer part of Ward 4. Hhe thinks the BOE’s polling site plan will make it somewhat harder for people in his ward to vote, and that’s why he voted against it.
“The voter turnout, you know, it’s rough to begin with,” Potter said. “If we move it to the extremity of the [Ward 4] boundary line, when the population center [is closer to the towers] — that’s not conducive to getting the vote out. I’m going to have to be voting no.”
Stead asked Potter if he was aware of any other sites that might be more centrally located for Gloversville’s 4th Ward.
“They’ve been using the Gloversville Senior Center,” Potter said.
Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Greg Fagan said the ownership of the Gloversville Senior Center has changed, and that’s no longer an option for use as a polling site.
“That’s part of what this move is about, that they don’t have that [senior center] building anymore,” Fagan said.
Stead said he shares Potter’s concerns about not wanting to make it more difficult for anyone to vote.
Potter reiterated why he thinks the polling station should be restored to Kingsboro Towers.
“There’s 100 tenants in that Kingsboro Towers alone, and then it’s a magnet for people to come down from each compass point to vote, and to either restrict that or to make it harder [seems wrong],” he said. “We’re supposed to be encouraging voting, and not to be anti-voting about it.”
Fagan said he sympathizes with Potter’s concerns about voter accessibility. He said when the Fulton County Board of Elections (BOE) had originally brought the polling site reduction plan to the County Board of Supervisors Finance Committee, which oversees BOE operations, the plan had included eliminating the Town of Northampton District 2 voting site located at the United Methodist Church at Fish House, 1605 County Highway 110 in
“They were talking about closing down Fish House and making those folks drive over to Northville [where the Town of Northampton Town Hall voting site is located], which is a 23-mile round trip, but we would not approve that for that very same reason,” Fagan said. “These other ones, unfortunately, they don’t really increase your travel, but in that situation it was the same as telling those folks ‘don’t bother voting’ because they’d have to go all the way around the lake.”