FINE — Some residents of the hamlet of Fine are so upset with a change in their polling place that they're repairing the old town hall at their own expense.
"This little community is in quite a uproar," Michelle L. Durham said. "We're in danger of losing an identity."
The group will meet at 10 a.m. Sunday to work on a concrete ramp so the building is more accessible.
Regardless, the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections has changed the town of Fine's polling site to the Star Lake municipal building.
"We have moved it," Democratic Election Commissioner Jennie H. Morrill said. "If we can consolidate, we're doing it."
Last year, St. Lawrence County changed 20 election district polling places, generating displeasure among some residents who objected to the distances they would have to drive to vote.
This year, the county changed polling places in DePeyster, Fowler, Pierrepont and Fine.
In Fine's case, the shift from two polling places to one means some people will have to drive more than 10 miles to vote.
The change was part of the county's compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act, which aims to increase access for the disabled and avoid the kind of vote-counting problems that were part of the 2000 presidential race.
The old town hall in the hamlet of Fine doesn't meet accessibility requirements, Ms. Morrill said. In addition, the county has tried to limit the number of electronic voting machines — each costing $12,500 — it must supply.
Nevertheless, the Fine residents are hoping their efforts at repair will lead the way to an eventual return of their polling place.
"We're looking at an appeals process, if there is one," Mrs. Durham said. "It's kind of ironic that they claim the building isn't safe for the elderly. They're the ones who are probably not going to go to Star Lake to vote."
The group appealed to the Fine Town Council, which agreed at its last meeting to allow residents to work on the structure, which was built in the late 1800s and is in poor condition.
"It's great to have an organization stepping forward," Fine Supervisor Mark C. Hall said. "That building could probably use $50,000 worth of work over the next 10 years and we don't have that money."
The building is used by several groups and has historic significance. The town isn't neglecting the building completely.
It hired an architect to report on what the building needs and is spending $22,000 on roof and facade work.
Mr. Hall said he understood the reluctance of some residents to drive to Star Lake to vote.
"It hurts to lose the pride in your own place," he said.