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John Lamb, Published June 12 2012

Construction complicates navigating to Robert Johnson Rec voting site

FARGO – On election day people usually have a harder times navigating the ballot than the polling place.

That wasn’t the case at Fargo’s Robert Johnson Rec Center, voting location for District 21.

Construction on Second Avenue meant the polling place could only be reached from the south.

The street work eliminated parking on the north side of the building, and work trucks parked on 11th Street took other spots to the east. This left a packed parking lot on the south side and street parking on the same side.

“I don’t know if it’s prevented anyone from coming in,” said Barb Booth, election inspector.

She did say that she and others staffing the balloting location heard a handful of complaints and at least one upset voter asked for the Cass County Auditor’s phone number to make an objection.

Some voters felt the polling place should have been moved when it was discovered construction could disrupt traffic.

Booth said she and the other volunteers were sympathetic to complaints and suggested voters think how much better the experience would be in the general election.

She said there were no issues and things were going smoothly once inside. At 5 p.m. 774 voters had passed through.

Outside some voters said the construction wasn’t an issue.

“It’s not bad if you live around here and know the area,” said Stacey Dohn Shenk.

At least one person was more concerned with accessibility for people with disabilities.

Outside the south entrance, Kathy Delapointe pointed to a sign that said handicap accessibility was located on the opposite side of the building. Voters had to climb a half-flight of stairs to reach the polling place.

All the construction was no problem for Alicia Hanson who arrived with ease on her bike.

“It was not going to deter me from voting,” she said.