Kenneth Burns returned a couple of months ago to his home state of Tennessee, but the Madison City Clerk's office, with the help of the U.S. Postal Service, made sure he knew that residents of Madison Ward 79 would now vote at the Sequoya Branch Library on Tokay Boulevard rather than at the Odana Hills Golf Course clubhouse.
"Maybe it's just as well that I moved," the former Isthmus arts editor quipped on Facebook. "If I can't vote at a place where jalapeno poppers are sold, I might not want to vote at all."
Sequoya is one of five new polling locations in the city of Madison that will be in operation for the Nov. 6 elections.
There are various reasons for the relocations, according to City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl, including for improved accessibility and more space.
She says that people using mobility devices need to be able to access polling places and that her office relies on the city's disability rights specialist to help guide compliance in these matters.
Operations at the Odana clubhouse were set up in a crowded entryway because there are steps leading to a larger room. As a result, says Witzel-Behl, "for November and February elections officials would be freezing all day long."
Sequoya will only host the next three elections until construction of a new Hy-Vee supermarket on the west side is finished, she adds.
Other polling location changes are:
- Ward 44: From the Tenney Park apartments to the Tenney Park Pavilion, 402 N. Thornton Ave.
- Ward 29: From Fire Station 1 to Fresh Market Madison, 703 University Ave.
- Ward 71: From South Police District to Badger Rock Middle School, 501 E. Badger Rd.
- Ward 75: From Arbor Leopold satellite police office to Arbor Gate Center, 2501 W. Beltline Hwy.
All of the changes were approved by the City Council on Oct. 2.
State law prohibits changes in polling locations within 30 days of an election. That rule recently stymied attempts to move the polling location at Gates of Heaven Synagogue.
It turns out that either the local alder or the mayor's office has to propose a change in polling location. A resident tried to get the location moved, claiming it was not conducive to elderly or disabled voters, but Ald. Bridget Maniaci was opposed.
City officials eventually backed the move, but Maniaci quickly consulted City Attorney Michael May. He confirmed it was too late in the game.