The city's five wards will have three different polling stations in the Nov. 3 election to accommodate coronavirus-related mandates for social distancing.

City Council voted at its Aug. 18 meeting to have Wards 1 and 2 vote at the Boathouse, Wards 3 and 4 at the Crosby Center and Ward 5 at the Methodist Church in East Belfast.

City Clerk Amy Flood said she proposed the idea out of concern that the Crosby Center would fill to the 50-person indoor capacity quickly and interfere with people’s ability to vote in a timely manner.

She said the city has not received absentee ballots from the state, but will issue them Oct. 3 for residents who have requested one. Absentee ballots can be requested over the phone, but Flood prefers people to use the state’s online portal so her staff can focus on other work preparing for the election.

Absentee ballots can be mailed to the city or dropped off in a dropbox to which only she and deputy clerks have access. Masks will not be required to vote, but the city will have some available with hand sanitizer at polling locations.

In other business, the city voted to allow City Manager Erin Herbig to discuss extending Curbside Belfast, which will expire on Indigenous People’s Day, with downtown businesses. Our Town Belfast suggested the extension, according to Herbig.

Curbside Belfast is an initiative established shortly before nonessential businesses were allowed to reopen. It allows downtown shops and restaurants to use city space in front of their businesses to safely accommodate more people than what is legally allowed under the state’s social distancing guidelines.

Councilor Mike Hurley was concerned that  businesses adjacent to those taking advantage of Curbside Belfast might have encountered issues with the new initiative and wanted Herbig to speak to those businesses. Herbig said the city has not received any complaints about the initiative, but she will speak to those adjacent businesses.

Councilors Mary Mortier and Paul Dean were concerned about how it would impact plowing this winter once snow starts to fall. It was suggested that Herbig speak to Public Works Director Bob Richards about plowing around the barricades.

Herbig will address the council about a possible extension plan at the second meeting in September.