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Anti-Robinson church won't be polling place

Anti-Robinson church won't be polling place

After protests from some residents and local lawmakers, officials in Durham, N.H., have moved their town polling place. Initially, Durham voters were to cast ballots in the presidential primary and next fall's elections at the Durham Evangelical Church, but some said the church should not be used because it held a worship service opposing the consecration of V. Gene Robinson as the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop. Town residents will now cast their ballots at the Heidelberg Web Systems building. Because the town's regular voting place, Oyster River High School, can't be used in 2004 due to construction, Durham Evangelical Church offered its space for the January 27 balloting as well as for three other 2004 elections, The Union Leader reports. But resistance from town councilors and residents led town administrator Todd Selig to move the primary voting location. Selig announced the decision last week and again on December 30. "I issued a statement on December 24, but no one did anything with it, and I want people to know the site has been changed," Selig said. In November, at the very moment that Robinson was being consecrated, Durham Evangelical Church held a service for Episcopalians opposed to his election. At a December 15 council meeting, several councilors challenged the use of the church as a polling place. Councilor Katie Paine said she didn't want to be in a church that supports "intolerance and homophobia." On Thursday Paine said she is thrilled by Selig's decision. "A tremendous amount of people would not be comfortable going into the Evangelical church for a host of reasons," Paine said, according to The Union Leader, adding that last year's use of the church for a town meeting was "before they took a highly public stance on a highly public issue. They took the whole issue and put it smack-dab in the forefront of people's conscientiousness. If they hadn't, would there be a problem now? No."

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