NEW BEDFORD — The closure of several local nursing homes is not only affecting residents and workers, but could affect voters, too.

Bedford Gardens Care and Rehab on Acushnet Avenue in the far North End of New Bedford serves as the polling location for voters in Precinct 1D.

With the location set to close soon due to "ongoing operational issues," Election Commissioner Manuel DeBrito tells WBSM's Phil Paleologos his department will have to find another location that has all of the same criteria that Bedford Gardens met.

"We're going to go down that list and see what we can find," said DeBrito. "We don't want to disrupt too many other wards and precincts, but we'll look at every single option that we have and try to make the best decision."

DeBrito says a new location would need to have handicap access, plentiful parking, and ample square footage in order to be considered for use as a polling station.

The new location does not have to be within the boundaries of Precinct 1D. DeBrito says the location for 1D voters can be in a directly adjacent precinct.

DeBrito says his department will soon be meeting with Ward One City Councilor Brad Markey to discuss options. The search is beginning now, DeBrito says, even if there's an unexpected announcement that Bedford Gardens will somehow remain open.

"Better safe than sorry. I'd hate to find out right before the election that they are going to close their doors and now we're forced to scramble. We want to have plenty of time so we can make the best decision for the voters and for the workers [at a new location]. We want to make it as comfortable as possible and be able to figure something out."

He adds that he welcomes suggestions on a new polling location from residents.

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