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Voting in Niagara County Board of Elections changes plan to consolidate Lewiston polling places

Voting is a duty, but finding where to cast your ballot shouldn't be difficult. Niagara County recently averted that potential problem for voters and political parties, through action by the county's Board of Elections.

Polling places in Lewiston were moved this year, in some cases posing a 20-mile round trip for voters who plan to vote in this presidential, congressional and State Legislature election year. It took a visit by Niagara County Board of Elections commissioners to make sure requested changes to that plan were made. Instead of cutting the voting sites, more now will be added.

The Board of Elections had received numerous complaints after deciding to consolidate the number of polling places in the Town of Lewiston from eight to three, even though that plan was designed as part of the federally mandated "Help America Vote" program. Apparently, elections officials wanted to consolidate sites because each handicapped-accessible ballot marking machine costs $11,500 to deliver, in addition to costs for the extra people the elections office has to hire for each site it opens.

But Town Supervisor Fred Newlin's complaint that the Town Board was never consulted was appropriate. Perhaps better communication would have avoided misunderstandings, let alone the possibility of a roundabout Nov. 4 route to the polls.

Every American has the right to vote, and any effort to ensure that right is welcome. But the initial plan in Niagara County could have hindered voting in one of the most closely contested and voter-mobilizing presidential elections in years. It's good the county eventually got this right.

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