5-12-20 VOTE

Voters wait in their cars at the Conway town garage May 12. (JAMIE GEMMITI PHOTO)

CONWAY — After success with the municipal elections earlier this month, selectmen Tuesday voted to hold the state primary elections at the town highway garage.

Whether it’s a drive-through election again is up in the air.

In the May 12 elections, 1,457 total ballots werecast, including a record 921 people voting absentee amid COVID-19 fears.

“I thought it went spectacularly well,” said Selectman Carl Thibodeau of the May 12 election.

The next scheduled election is the state primary on Sept. 8.

State elections typically draw a larger crowd of between 1,800 and 2,000 voters, said Town Clerk Louise Inkell.

Inkell also said that New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner put out a memo in April saying that any registered voter who seeks to avoid COVID-19 may vote absentee in September and November.

Selectman John Colbath said the November election is already scheduled to be at the high school.

Calling into the meeting by phone, Conway Town Moderator Deborah Fauver said she’s been talking to moderators around New Hampshire and has heard that Gardner “isn’t crazy” about drive-through elections for the primary.

Colbath said selectmen only decided where the election would take place, not how it would be conducted.

“You did such a fine job with the details of the last one, we are going to leave those up to you for the September election,” he told Fauver.

Fauver told the Sun that she hoped to soon be getting “guidance” from the state on drive-through elections.

Inkell said the reason why the selectmen needed to discuss the election now is the Secretary of State’s Office says the warrant for the September election needs to be posted and that the warrant must include the location. Inkell said the selectmen would have to make a decision by Monday.

Since selectmen meet on Tuesdays, they had to make a decision at this week’s meeting.

Public Works Director Paul DegliAngeli told selectmen that renovations to the garage’s break room and bathrooms could be in some stage of development, but that wouldn’t prevent the town from using the garage as a polling location. The work would be paid for with about $200,000 from the capital reserve fund.

Selectmen have yet to formally approve that work but told DegliAngeli to refine his figures.

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