Polls should remain at college

Imagine how different the outcome of Vermont’s November elections would have been had the entire town of Castleton chose not to participate. That’s a potential 4,367 Vermont voters who didn’t cast a ballot, not even including Castleton State College’s 1,900 full time students, most of whom are eligible to vote in the town too. Questions about the legality of voting on state owned property, the college, were raised by Castleton Select Board Chairman Thomas Ettori at a Nov. 8 meeting.

The town of Castleton recently decided to move the polls to the college where they were easily accessible to residents, said Kate Thornblade, Castleton Town Clerk.

Parking concerns were cited as the reason for the move.

But Ettori said he received complaints from concerned Castleton residents who felt voting shouldn’t be held on the college campus.

Dig a little deeper though and these “complaints” seemed to uncover a potential scheme to keep college students from voting in the town of Castleton.

Ettori also said that Castleton citizens expressed concerns about college students voting in their town. He said that having the polls at the college makes it easier for students to vote on issues which they are uninformed about.

The fact that Castleton residents voted on state owned property appears not to be the real issue here, it’s an excuse to try and keep college voters to a minimum.

Voting on state owned property is not going to sway anyone’s vote, so why not keep the polls at the college?

The former voting place was the Castleton Village School, a location that wasn’t working due to its secluded location and lack of parking. The polls were moved to the college to make voting easier for Castleton residents, so it’s only right that they stay at their new site, right?

If voting locations move all over town with each election, how will residents know where to vote? Will they even vote?

And moving the polls back to the Village School will still leave the town with its original problems.

College students interested in voting will find a way to do so regardless of the location. Why should they be treated any differently than Castleton residents?

Members of the board and Castleton citizens who have a problem with students exercising their 15th Amendment rights should address their concerns with the students directly, not discuss it behind closed doors.

Town officials should try and find ways to simplify voting, not make it more difficult. Constantly changing town voting arrangements is undermining that goal.

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