Westside Center will be polling place in November

       The Westside Community Center has been approved as a polling place for the Nov. 6 general election.
       According to El Paso County Election Manager Liz Olson, a final decision has not yet been made, but “we're considering Precincts 112 and 113” (which are closest to the center and number about 1,800 registered voters).
       The reason for lack of absolute certainty, she pointed out, is that her office is still working out the details of the statewide redistricting, including changes in 199 precincts county-wide, which will take effect in this year's election.
       The center, at 1628 W. Bijou St, meets the basic requirements of a polling place by having sufficient parking and space inside for voting, Olson said.
       It's not as if there's usually competition for such sites. “The hard part is people being willing to give us locations,” she noted.
       The Community Center, still seeking location recognition after operating two years in what used to be the Buena Vista school, had requested the opportunity to become a polling place. Initial conversations with the county a year ago were followed up with a written request in January, which led to the recent site approval.
       It's not known how many voters will actually end up going to the center on election day. Olson said that more than 60 percent now use mail-in ballots or vote early.
       In any case, for some people, voting at the center “may be like coming home,” said Westside Community Center Director Dick Siever. That's because until 2006, the Buena Vista school had been a regular polling place.
       Because of conflict with school schedules, “2008 was the first year we didn't use it,” Olson said.
       In 2010, there were new wrinkles: The BV building now housed the Community Center, and the center's former location on North 20th Street - which had itself been a polling place - was the new West Elementary.
       In 2010, six Westside precincts wound up being assigned to the International Dance Club at 2422 W. Busch Ave., south of Highway 24.
       That was a little too out of the way for long-time Westsider Bob Kliewer, a member of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) board, who lives near the current Westside Community Center. Hearing the news of the 2012 polling place approval at a recent OWN board meeting, he commented, “The neighbors will appreciate that.”

Westside Pioneer article