The Board of Selectmen supported two measures to increase Southborough voter participation. One was to boost election turnout and the other focused on Town Meeting.
Town Clerk Jim Hegarty proposed extending election poll hours to cover earlier hours. Last night, Hegarty got approval to fund staffing all of the elections from 6:30 am to the standard 8:00 pm closing. The projected $1,250 will come from his previously approved budget.
Southborough polls have traditionally opened at 7:00 am for state and federal elections and primaries. But for the annual Town elections, they have opened an hour later.
In his memo, Hegarty pitched that the early hours are important for long-range commuters and workers with 12 hour shifts. And he pointed out that inconsistent hours can cause confusion.
Hegarty also plans to drum up voter awareness through signs and other inexpensive publicity. Southborough Wicked Local wrote:
The efforts include having commercial property owners place signs on their properties, ask schools and stores to publicize voting dates and asked “churches to publicize voting dates from the pulpits and in bulletins and emails.” . . .
Selectman Daniel Kolenda cautioned against the idea of having churches involved and “politics from the pulpit.”
The Town will give the new hours a four year trial at a total projected cost of about $5,000.
Town Moderator Steve Morreale also received approval for his previously proposed ad-hoc Town Meeting Review Committee. The TMRC is charged with researching suggestions to improve Town Meeting efficiency and participation.
Last month, Morreale suggested having five committee members, with the Town Administrator Mark Purple as an extra ex-officio member. According to SWL, last night three members were appointed by the Morreale and three by the board, in addition to Purple. The article lists the following members were named: Tim Martel, Donna McDaniel, Julie Connelly, Claire Reynolds, Steven David and Susan Grinblatas.
You can read the full SWL article here.