The College Park City Council voted Tuesday to hold this year’s city elections on Sunday, Nov. 5, at the College Park Community Center, despite pressure from residents to move the election’s primary location to Davis Hall during Tuesday’s council meeting.

The vote affirms that the College Park Community Center will be the single polling location on Election Day for the 2023 city elections. The Nov. 5 election will determine the next city council and mayor.

District 1 council member Fazlul Kabir advocated for Davis Hall to be an additional election site this year on his blog Sunday. When given three voting locations in 2019, voters overwhelmingly chose to vote at Davis Hall over Ritchie Coliseum, Stamp Student Union, absentee ballots and early voting, Kabir wrote in the post.

“We shouldn’t be going the other direction and taking out existing [locations] … which have been wildly popular,” Kabir said during the meeting.

[College Park elections board recommends permanent vote-by-mail list system]

Some College Park residents supported the idea of a voting location at Davis Hall, which is located closer to North College Park and temporarily served as the meeting location for the council during the construction of the new City Hall.

Davis Hall has worked well as a voting location in the past, and removing it would force people to travel farther to vote, resident Judy Blumenthal said at the meeting.

“This has totally denied the fundamental right of your residents to exercise their right to vote,” Blumenthal told the council. “Not only is the system [of voting at Davis Hall] not broken, the system is working very well.”

Other residents insisted the majority of College Park voters live in the north of the city, so the city’s voting site should be more accessible for those community members. Once the new district map goes into place after the 2023 election, District 1 will have almost three times the amount of voters as the other districts in College Park.

[Here’s how the business scene in College Park is changing in 2023]

John Payne, the chief of the city’s Board of Election Supervisors, said the city is focusing on increasing mail-in and early voting in 2023, rather than expanding in-person voting options, which have been less utilized during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adding another polling place could also cost the city “tens of thousands of dollars” more, city clerk Janeen Miller said during the council meeting.

The Board of Elections Supervisors and Council is expected to offer early voting at both City Hall and Davis Hall in the 10 days leading up to city elections. The elections board will also use the state’s permanent vote by mail list to simplify the vote by mail process and allow residents to register to vote up to 15 days before the election, rather than the previous deadline of 28 days before the election.

Resident Carol Macknis said making North College Park voters go to the College Park Community Center will prevent people from voting, regardless of the proposed improvements to the city’s early voting options.

College Park resident Gale Mamatova disagreed with this notion because there are public transportation routes to the community center and to increase voter turnout, the polling location must be in a central location. For that reason, the city council made the correct decision in keeping the community center as the primary voting location, Mamatova said.

“If only North College Park is voting, then College Park is not voting,” Mamatova said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the College Park Community Center will be the single polling location for the 2023 city elections. It will be the single polling location on Election Day. This story has been updated.