Gloucester taxpayers’ cost of running today’s state primary elections — some $10,000 — is not exactly a budget buster, especially with the state reimbursing the city for a third of the cost.
But does the city really need to have all 10 — count ’em, 10 — polling places open for an election like today’s state primary, which features just one contested race, a Democratic primary race for the Governor’s Council, a body that few voters follow and even fewer understand?
Yes, the right to vote is perhaps our most cherished. And it’s important to make voting accessible to all, which is no doubt behind the city’s charter mandating that two precinct stations be opened and staffed for each of Gloucester’s five wards whenever there is a local, state or federal election. But there also comes a point when common sense should have a chance to prevail. And opening 10 polling places for an election like today’s crosses the line of practicality, especially at polling sites that disrupt local schools.
Manchester and Essex, with single polling places at Memorial Elementary School and the Essex Fire Station, respectively, already offer the minimal voting locations needed. And Rockport’s three polling stations serve three fairly distinct parts of town.
But Gloucester officials should at least have the option of scaling back the number of polling places to one site per ward on a day when those working the election in the city may well outnumber those voting in it.