Ely polling place stays put

Proposal to move voting to City Hall dies at council table

by Tom Coombe
Silence spoke volumes Tuesday night, when a proposal to move Ely’s only polling place quietly fizzled.
Balloting will apparently remain at the Ely Senior Center this year, after a much-discussed plan to relocate to the newly-remodeled City Hall failed the generate council support.
Floated several months ago by city clerk-treasurer Harold Langowski and advanced this week by council member Kara Polyner, the proposal died when none of the remaining council members would second Polyner’s motion.
After declaring the motion dead, council member Heidi Omerza, who filled in for absent mayor Chuck Novak, simply said “hearing no support, we move on.”
The defeat reflected an apparent shift in sentiment by the council, which appeared to be behind the move during the winter but showed no inclination of support this week.
The shift followed opposition on several fronts, particularly from longtime election judge Pat Koski, who charged that fellow election judges and the general public were against the move.
Koski argued that balloting worked well at the single-story Senior Center, located at the corner of First Avenue East and Harvey Street, and claimed that a move to City Hall posed many logistical problems.
Access, particularly for the elderly or handicapped, tops the list of concerns.
While City Hall has an elevator to take voters to the top floor, where balloting would be conducted, Koski said that seniors and those requiring canes, walkers or wheelchairs would face more difficulty accessing the building than they would encounter at the Senior Center.
Parking issues and the likely heavy turnout this year, when the presidential election will be held, were also cited.
Langowski had suggested the move in January, contending it would be easier for city staff, pointing to handicap accessibility at the remodeled City Hall, and the opportunity to show off the renovations there, including a new elevator.