Early voting through Friday. It’s not just for seniors!

by beth on October 27, 2020

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Above: Early voting is open for all registered voters at the Senior Center this week. (photos by Beth Melo)

I learned that some residents assumed the option to vote at the Senior Center was just open to seniors. Despite the name on the building, the facility is being used for all Southborough voters. 

Voting early at Senior Center during covid (photo by Beth Melo)This week, early voting continues to be held from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm daily through Friday, October 30th. Entry is through the rear of the building (Cordaville Hall, 9 Cordaville Road).

For what is on Southborough’s ballots, click here for my prior post detailing candidates and ballot initiatives.

I’m sharing some clarifications (and reminders) based on my communications with Southborough Town Clerk Jim Hegarty.

Which voting method is best?

Hegarty assures that whatever method is the one your are most comfortable with is fine. That includes voting on November 3rd. Still, he is concerned about potentially long lines on Election Day. Since there are Covid safety limits to the number of people allowed in the Trottier gym, voters could end up having to stand outside for a long time even if the weather is lousy. To avoid that he is urging voters to take advantage of the early methods.

Is there any reason to vote in person vs by mail?

Some people may be trying to ensure their vote is counted in the results shared on Election Day. Hegarty assures that all mail-in ballots received by Election Day will be tabulated and included in that day’s results. The same is true for the in-person early voting ballots.

As I previously shared, 2.2% of mailed in ballots failed to be counted for the recent primary. The biggest reasons were ballots that were mailed/dropped off past the deadline and issues with voters’ handling of envelopes. If you vote in-person, you can avoid those issues. However, you can also avoid those issues by reading and following the instructions included in the ballot and making sure you submit it before the deadline. (It should be either postmarked by November 3rd or received by the Town Clerk before the polls close at 8:00 pm.) 

You can bring your Mail-in Ballot to Early Voting

Hegarty has made it clear that the Southborough Post Office has been a great partner in the process. Still, news about wider post office issues may have made some voters nervous about mailed ballots arriving in time. For them a drop off box outside the Town House may have seemed the best option. But now, news from Boston and California about sabotaged drop boxes may raise new fears. There is a third option.

If you bring completed, signed Mail-in Ballot to the Senior Center during Early Voting hours, there is a secure ballot drop box you can use. It is separate from the box used to collect the early voting ballots, and you can’t bring your ballot into the voting area, even to save paper. Hegarty explains:

to ensure the integrity of the voting process, we must be certain that the ballot voted at Early Voting is one that we have had complete control of it since it was printed. Also, we account for every ballot brought to the Early Voting location, every ballot used, every ballot spoiled, etc. We verify those quantities against the check-in computer, the physical count of the sealed envelopes deposited by the voters in the ballot box, and we verify the totals by precinct against the barcodes we scan each night into the state voter system.

You can vote in person even if you received your Mail-in Ballot 

Clearly, you can’t vote both by mail and in person. But you can choose not to use your Mail-in Ballot, whether you received it or it’s still on the way. Election staff have a procedure to verify that a mail-in ballot hasn’t been received. (It does require a worker to call the Town House to verify that one wasn’t received there earlier that day. But that just takes a moment.)

You can still request a Mail-in Ballot – but act quickly

If you prefer to vote by mail, and haven’t requested a ballot yet, it’s not too late. Hegarty is confident that if they receive a mail-in ballot request by 5:00 pm this Wednesday, October 28th, they can mail it to you in time to vote by mail. To do that, click here. (That link is to the Town Clerk’s website which also has links for registering, checking voting status, and tracking mail ballots.)

Are you registered to vote?

The deadline to register to vote in this election is past. If you are unsure whether or not you are already registered to vote in Southborough, you can click here. (And, if you aren’t, you can still register to vote for future elections.)

Updated (10/27/20 9:49 am): I should have included – readers with any additional questions about voting in Southborough can check out the Town Clerk’s election info page here.

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