Proposal would move voting locations for 12,000 Janesville residents

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Elliot Hughes
August 6, 2015

JANESVILLE -- The polling places for about 12,700 Janesville voters would change if the city council approves a new resolution Monday.

The proposed relocations are:

-- Moving wards 27 and 28 from Harrison Elementary School to Craig High School, affecting 3,809 registered voters.

-- Moving wards 23-26 from Kennedy Elementary School to New Life Assembly of God, affecting 3,270 registered voters.

-- Moving wards 5 and 6 from Madison Elementary School to Franklin Middle School, affecting 2,328 registered voters.

-- Moving wards 11, 12 and 29 from Rotary Botanical Gardens to Craig High School, affecting 3,296 registered voters.

This past spring, Janesville School District officials expressed concern to the city about safety at Madison, Harrison and Kennedy elementary schools. At the same time, the Rotary Gardens stated a preference not to host voters anymore.

Kevin Leavy, spokesman for the school district, said individuals who vote at Madison, Harrison and Kennedy have access throughout the buildings, compromising safety. Craig and Franklin have separate entrances and doors to control access to other parts of the buildings, he said.

No specific incident caused the district to re-evaluate its polling accommodations, Leavy said. The district first considered eliminating polling at the three schools two years ago, he said.

The suggested reassignments also include more parking for voters, said Dave Godek, Janesville city clerk-treasurer. He said the three elementary schools--specifically Madison--do not have enough spaces.

“All of those facilities provide better parking,” Godek said. “That should make it easier for voters.”

Godek said the city typically makes most of its polling location adjustments in the years immediately following a new U.S. Census. It will cost between $6,000 and $7,000 to notify all registered voters living in those wards of the changes, if approved by the council.

The city does not pay the district or any other organization to host polling, Godek said.

Harrison Elementary is about a two and a half miles from Craig High School, representing the largest change in distance.

The school district suggested moving several polling locations to Craig and Franklin, Godek said. Assembly of God has a gymnasium with no religious artifacts and is therefore an appropriate facility, Godek wrote in the proposal's memorandum.

Rotary Gardens first started hosting voters in 2012, while the three elementary schools have been polling places for at least 15 years, Godek said.

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