Voters register at public library

MILFORD – Rachel Taylor registered to vote at the Wadleigh Memorial Library last week. The 21-year-old Rochester Institute of Technology student took advantage of a two-hour voter registration session Aug. 9.

And so did Dino Quimby, who recently moved to Milford from Manchester and happened to be in the library and noticed the table where two supervisors of the checklist sat near the circulation desk. A sign on the table advertised it an “an ideal opportunity for college students to register to vote and get abstentee ballots if they need one.”

Supervisor Polly Cote explained to Quimby how to declare a party affiliation for the upcoming primary election and then how to go back to being undeclared.

“I got a library card and stumbled upon them,” he said. “I needed to do this … it’s convenient.”

Four new voters signed up that day and checklist supervisors who were there for the session said it was a great idea and would do it again.

“A lot of people don’t know the process, so the more exposure the better,” said Tim Finan.

The idea came from Wadleigh’s Director Betsy Solon who said that when her two children went off to college, registering to vote was one the tasks they checked off before they left.

It’s a way to give people an opportunity to be part of the election process, she said, and the voter registration session is another way “libraries can be part of the community” much as the new passport program does.

Beginning last fall, the library started taking passport applications seven days a week, by appointment. So far they have accepted 593 passport applications and brought in $17,335 of unanticipated income that has enabled some building repairs, including replacement of an unsafe front walkway.

People appreciate that they can come in on evenings or weekends, and there is a place for children to play, Solon said.

The New Hampshire state primary election is Sept. 11 and unregistered voters may register and vote on that day. The general election is Nov. 6, and on that day as well, unregistered voters may register and vote.

For more information contact the Milford supervisors of the checklist: Polly Cote, 249-0600 ext. 229, Darlene Bouffard, 249-0620, or Tim Finan: 672-5519.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or