Early voting: In person starts Saturday, early ballots delivered, and what’s on the ballot (Updated)

by beth on October 14, 2020

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Right: Many of this fall’s voters won’t be getting stickers. But you could always make your own! (image from slate.com)

This weekend, early voting opens in Southborough. The Town will hold early voting at the Senior Center/Cordaville Hall, 9 Cordaville Road. Voting will be open from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm daily from Saturday, October 17th to Friday, October 30th. The entrance is at the rear of the building.

While all three precincts vote in the same location, you need to know what precinct you’re in. To save time at the polls, you can check that here.

If you prefer to vote by mail, and haven’t requested a ballot yet, click here. (The Town Clerk’s website also has links for registering, checking voting status, and tracking mail ballots.)

Town Clerk Jim Hegarty updated me:

All voters in Southborough received their Vote by Mail ballots yesterday thanks to an incredible job by 21 volunteers who spent a Saturday assembling the packets, and the Southborough Post Office who brought in extra staff to ensure that all ballots would be delivered yesterday.

There has been a lot of recent news about disqualified ballots across the country. I asked Hegarty about how many Southborough ballots were rejected and why. His data shows that 42 mailed in ballots were ultimately rejected. That’s 2.2% of those who tried to vote by mail in Southborough.

The biggest single reason for rejected ballots was arriving too late to qualify.

A larger group of rejected ballots were due to a variety of ways envelopes were mishandled.* That points out the importance of ensuring that you carefully read and follow the instructions included with the ballot. Acting early can also help with most of those issues. 12 voters notified of issues were able to were able to take advantage of a second chance and cast ballots that were accepted.

Another issue mail-in voters ran into was improper listing of their mailing address. If you have a second address (like a college or a vacation home you sought refuge in this summer) make sure the right address is currently on file for you. (Read more about that in a prior post.)

Hegarty is encouraging residents to take advantage of the early options:

PLEASE Vote by Mail or Vote Early. . .

  • There will be long lines at the polls on November 3, especially between 3pm and 8pm.  Please Vote by Mail or go to Early Voting.
  • The number of voters inside the gym may be limited due to COVID, so voters may have to wait in lines outside the gym, even if the weather is bad.
  • Before entering the gym, all voters will be asked COVID screening questions approved by the Southborough Board of Health.
  • Thank you to the Rotary Club of Southborough for volunteering to help with COVID screening at this election.

With the mail-in voting open and early polls about to be, it’s time to look at what choices voters in town are being asked to make.

The ballot includes more than candidates. It also asks voters to decide on two legislative initiatives. Hegarty’s announcement reminds voters to review the questions in advance. Here are some details to help you do that.

A quick Google search will pull up a slew of opinions on which way to vote. The links I included below are just to help you understand the details and debate around each question:

  • Question 1 –  Motor Vehicle Mechanical Data –  Boston.com summed up the support and opposition arguments here. (A more recent Boston Globe business column gives a clearer explanation of the tech at the heart of the question and what’s at stake for voters and auto repair shops. So I’m also sharing it even though the writer takes a position.)
    • A YES VOTE would provide motor vehicle owners and independent repair facilities with expanded access to wirelessly transmitted mechanical data related to their vehicles’ maintenance and repair.
      A NO VOTE would make no change in the law governing access to vehicles’ wirelessly transmitted mechanical data.
  • Question 2 – Rank Choice Voting – Another Boston.com piece explains the arguments for and against the proposed voting measure.
    • A YES VOTE would create a system of ranked-choice voting in which voters would have the option to rank candidates in order of preference and votes would be counted in rounds, eliminating candidates with the lowest votes until one candidate has received a majority.
    • A NO VOTE would make no change in the laws governing voting and how votes are counted.

For the full text of each question, click here and scroll down.

As for who is running. . . 

We all know that the Presidential ticket is on the ballot. As one resident highlighted in a letter to the editor, some voters may not realize there are more than two parties vying for votes. In Massachusetts, voters can choose from electors for:

Thanks to a highly competitive primary last month, you are probably also aware of the race for U.S Senator. (Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of readers haven’t heard of the GOP’s nominee.)

There are two other races on Southborough’s ballot. One is for U.S. Congress and the other for a County position.

Representative in Congress – Fifth District

Register of Probate for Worcester County

There are candidates on the ballot for other offices, but they are running unopposed.

Southborough Ballot Drop in BoxA couple of quick voting by mail reminders. The Town has a blue election drop off box at the Town House where you can deposit your ballots before 8:00 pm on November 3rd. (While it doesn’t require postage, you still need to follow all of the regular instructions for envelopes.) Mailed ballots need to be postmarked by November 3rd and received by November 6th.

You can find more details on early voting, voting by mail, and voting on November 3rd here.

*Mishandled envelopes were described as not sealed, returned in wrong envelope, unsigned envelope, or returned without an envelope.

Updated (10/15/20 8:22 am): I initially referred to the last day of early in-person voting as a Saturday. As a reader pointed out, October 30th is a Friday.

Updated (10/15/20 9:17 am): I added info about the drop box and mail voting deadlines.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elisabeth Benders-Hyde October 14, 2020 at 8:36 PM

You state that early voting is from Saturday, October 17th to Saturday, October 30th. However, October 30th falls on a Friday. The Saturday mentioned above would fall on October 31st.

Reply

2 beth October 15, 2020 at 8:20 AM

Thank you for pointing that out. I clearly read the calendar wrong.

Reply

3 Carol October 19, 2020 at 9:24 PM

Why was the choice for President listed without indicating Trump /Pence as Candidate for re-election and therefore listed appropriately on first line ??? Such as others running on this ballot. Just wondering !!!!

Reply

4 beth October 20, 2020 at 11:30 AM

To be consistent with the ballot, I mimicked the order of the sample posted by the Secretary of State’s office. I assumed that orders were alphabetical. Your comment made me double check. Looking again, while the Presidential candidates are alphabetical, the Register of Probate isn’t. (For the other two races, the incumbent comes first alphabetically.)

I am guessing that the reason that the Presidential incumbent isn’t listed first, or even listed as running for re-election, is because technically you aren’t voting for those candidates. As noted on the ballot, you are voting for the “Electors” representing those campaigns. Since those members of the Electoral College may not be the same, it isn’t a re-election.

Reply

5 Al Hamilton October 20, 2020 at 11:44 AM

I voted today at the Senior Center. It was quick, easy and safe.

About 600 people had voted so far which is a little under 10% our 7700 registered voters.

Turnout on election day is likely to be heavy, you can make your life easier by voting early (but not often, this isn’t Chicago)

Reply

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