If, like many voters, you’re wondering why there were no privacy curtains at your polling place on Election Day, the Orange County Board of Elections has an answer.

The curtains were removed out of concern for the safety of voters, said commissioners Louise Vandemark and David Green.

Orange County purchased its approximately 300 polling booths about 10 years ago. The booths have side panels as well as semicircular fiberglass curtain rods on which to hang curtains for privacy.

But over the years, the curtain rods have deteriorated. A rod broke two years ago during the presidential election. Last year, a rod snapped during a local election, flying across the room and hitting someone, the commissioners said.

“Nobody was injured, but you don’t want to take a chance,” Vandemark said.

With the high turnout in the midterms, voting took place Tuesday in crowded polling stations. Voters noted the lack of privacy and called the Board of Elections to complain. The commissioners said most were satisfied by their explanation.

Marta Skrutskie, of Chester, said that in the past, curtains had blocked prying eyes and contained noise levels to some extent, but no more.

“I felt like I was out in the open, and anyone passing by could see how I voted,” Skrutskie said in an email. “It reminded me of school, when you had to shield your test so that no one could copy off of your paper. … This was not a comfortable situation.”

Vandemark said the board tried to replace the curtain rods, but the company that made the polling booths has gone out of business, and the board couldn’t find replacements that fit.

The polling booths couldn’t be replaced because of the cost, she said.

“It’s one thing if the equipment is worn out,” Green said. “But the booths are not worn out. We can’t justify the spending.”

heasley@th-record.com