ND supreme court, city council wrestle with voting locations

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) The number of polling places in Grand Forks has been controversial since this time last year.

"There are 80 places we can get a drink, and we want to narrow voting to one place? It kind of shows what we value in this community," said CT Marhula.

Marhula was one of the loudest voices opposing only one voting location in Grand Forks.

"We all don't have two or three SUVs at home. We all don't make sixty to three-hundred-thousand a year. We all can't take off any time we want from work," said Marhula.

He said the first time the city used only one polling location was during the vote that decided to turn the downtown Arbor Park into an apartment complex.

The only location to vote on the fate of the downtown park was across town at the Alerus Center. Marhula said that's voter suppression.

He took that argument to the North Dakota Supreme Court. Marhula said he expects them to make a ruling any day now.

In the meantime, the Grand Forks City Council was wrestling with whether or not they should have the authority to limit polling places for city votes.

"In my personal opinion, I think the more voting locations we can have the better," said Ward 1 council member Danny Weigel.

He said it can be challenging and costly getting enough people to staff polling sites.

"I voted in favor of having one polling location, for both of those of votes. Part of that was for Arbor Park, and the city sales tax, was to keep it consistent," Weigel said. "My big thing is let's wait to see what the state supreme court says."

Some minds are already made up.

"And if their vote is suppressed, it just lessens the connection between any government and the governed. I think that is so serious that it shouldn't even be discussed," Marhula said.

This does not effect next week's primary election. Limiting polling locations is only an option for city issues voted on inside city limits.

For your nearest polling location check the links under 'related links.'