Manchester Adds Voting District To Ensure Enfranchisement
Of the highest responsibilities of a democracy is ensuring the right to vote for all eligible voters. While all American citizens have been guaranteed the right to vote since 1924, there still have been hindrances to ensuring that right is guaranteed. That is why it is important to celebrate towns like Manchester who have done what they can to ensure that their citizens are not disenfranchised.
The issue starts with the 2010 Census when Connecticut was redistricted, and Manchester went from ten voting districts down to eight to accommodate new State House districts. There had been initial complaints about long lines and waits in 2012, which the Board of Directors and Registrar of Voters sought to ease by adding additional checker lines and election greeters.
It was made clear in 2018 that those measures had not gone quite far enough to alleviate the long waits. There was additional problems for the residents of the Spruce Street neighborhood, many of whom had no transportation to the Highland Park school, which was not accessible by bus line.
At the meeting of the Board of Directors in November of 2018, some residents implored the town to act quickly on adding a new district, with one resident saying that “it is very important that we send a message to voters in [the Spruce Street neighborhood] that their voices are important.”
Going into effect this year back to top
The message was loud and clear. While election law prevents you from changing election centers in the middle of an election season — i.e. between a primary and general election — the Board of Directors and Registrar of Voters gave suggestions for voting locations and district boundaries, and voted on the matter in the December 2018 meeting, where the measure was passed.
The new district will go into effect in 2019, and the voting will take place at the Bennet Academy. The boundaries split the Highland Park district that had over 5500 voters into two districts with just over 2000 each. To put this into hard numbers, if every eligible person voted, the Highland Park school would have to handle 392 voters per hour, or nearly seven people a minute. Splitting up the districts will make it a much more manageable three.
This will happen just in time for the 2020 election, which can be expected to be a historic turnout year, at minimal cost to the city, but to the great benefit of all of Manchester’s citizens.
Paraphrasing Lincoln at Gettysburg, it is of utmost necessity that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people should not cease to exist. The way we ensure the vision of Lincoln, is to ensure that the right to vote is accorded to every eligible person.