Ward 4 voters were greeted by a different set up for voting at their customary polling place, the Borough of West Chester’s Public Works Building on Lacey Street. The entire voting process took place outside under the shelter of tents. Voters and workers were able to remain at the recommended social distance. And because the majority of voters in the ward voted by mail and with the cooperation of the weather, all went smoothly.
Months ago Sue Bayne, former councilmember and Council President and current poll worker, recommended that a plan be put in place in advance of the primary election and referred Ward 4 Judge of Elections Woody Lathbury to the appropriate leaders at Public Works. Lathbury set up a meeting with Public Works Director O’B Laing, Public Works Supervisors Don Anderson and Don Powers.
"We met at the Public Works Building and what started as ’how do we protect voters from the weather’ conversation turned into ’how do we keep the voters out of the Public Works space’ in an effort to reduce the risk of infection for everyone, which was a much more relevant conversation," said Lathbury.
Lathbury, along with fellow poll workers Tina Facciolli and Sandee Young, went to the site on Monday to review the plans and do some early setup, then arrived early on Tuesday to help Anderson and others from Public Works set the tents and machines to be ready for the 7:00 AM opening with the last of the poll workers, Jennifer Hartz. At his wife Linda’s suggestion, Lathbury had bought pens by the gross so that each voter signed in, marked the ballot, and went home with the same pen -- a souvenir of a most unusual year and insurance that the pen would not be an instrument for COVID-19 spread.
"Voters came into the parking area through the main gate, registered and got their ballots, voted and submitted their ballots to the machine without ever going inside. We set up the registration tables across the garage door so that if it did start to rain, we were at least under cover, and everything else was under the canopies. Fortunately, the weather was not a problem," noted Lathbury.
Voters complimented the setup, planning and efficiency of the team and also noted that the new voting machines were easy to use.
Michael Stefano, Councilmember for Ward 4 who voted by mail said, "From everything I’ve heard, it was a great success! My thanks to you, Sandee, Tina, and Jennifer, and all who worked to make this possible."
"As usual," remarked Lathbury, "Public Works was awesome. Given the degree to which we disrupt their operations, I am always impressed with how nice, respectful and welcoming of our presence they are!"