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VILLAGE ELECTIONS DRAW FEW VOTERS, SO POLLING PLACES CUT TO TWO

Williamsville is downsizing village election day this year.

The Village Board has decided to eliminate one of three polling places, the basement of Williamsville United Methodist Church.

"Because we're only one square mile, we decided to reduce the number of venues," said Mayor Basil Piazza. "Everybody on the north side of Main Street will vote at the Meeting House, at Main and Mill. Everyone on the south side of Main will vote in Village Hall."

Village elections traditionally generate nominal interest, compared to the November elections for federal, state, county and town offices. About 75 percent of eligible voters in Erie County cast ballots in the November presidential election, according to the Erie County Board of Elections.

But only about 5 percent of eligible voters in Williamsville voted in the past two village elections, which have been in March. When Piazza ran unopposed for re-election as mayor two years ago, only 200 voters came to the polls to cast a ballot for him.

Williamsville voters decided five years ago to change their village elections to June; that change will take effect this year.

Besides reducing the number of polling places, the Village Board last week decided to eliminate the voter registration day that had been held in Village Hall one week before village elections, Piazza said.

"The last two years, all of two people showed up," the mayor said. "One year, two people showed up. Another year, no one showed up."

Aside from its poor results, the voter registration day cost the village hundreds of dollars, he said. Eight election inspectors were paid each year to be on hand waiting for residents to come register to vote.

"That would have been eight people standing around and having coffee all day," Piazza said.

Williamsville residents still can register to vote downtown at the Erie County Board of Elections. Anyone who has voted in any November election automatically is registered to vote in the village elections.

Piazza estimated Williamsville will save $2,800 this year by eliminating one polling place and canceling the voter registration day.

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