5 voting sites won’t open this year in Watertown, Jefferson County

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 4:20 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Jefferson County won’t open up five places where people usually vote this year. Officials say they’re trying to be more efficient with what they have.

Jefferson County residents can expect to see a letter in the mail soon. The message: the place they normally cast their ballot could change, whether it’s for a primary election this June or in the fall for the general election.

“Because of redistricting, our election districts have changed and because of that, we are pausing five poll sites,” said Michelle LaFave, Democratic commissioner at the Jefferson County Board of Elections.

The Emma Taylor Flower Fire Station and Midtown Towers in Watertown will be paused for polling this election cycle.

Outside the city limits, both the Felts Mills and Fishers Landing fire halls, along with the Natural Bridge Community Center won’t be open for voting.

“We took the two poll sites that were the least utilized and we said can we do this in a better way, where we move people to another place, and actually be a little more efficient with how we deploy our inspectors,” said Jude Seymour, Republican commissioner at the Jefferson County Board of Elections.

“It’s also trucking, the logistics of getting all of our equipment there, and staffing the poll sites as well,” said LaFave.

Seymour says the county understands some residents may be frustrated with the changes. He reminds voters, though, that there are more different ways to vote in advance now.

“If it’s an inconvenience to get to their poll site, or it’s an expense, we can work with people to find a solution to that. Whether that’s early voting or through absentee, we can help them with that solution,” he said.

If you still want to vote in person, LaFave says there is still one person you can call.

“A candidate’s going to make sure that somebody can get to the poll site for them to vote,” she said.

These sites are just being paused, not permanently closed. Election officials say that after the elections all of the polling data will be re-evaluated for next year.