Reminder: Early primary voting this Mon-Fri (Updated)

Above: Southborough voters can already vote in one of four political parties’ presidential primaries. (Though, the most attention will be on the outcome for one particular party.)

You don’t have to wait for Super Tuesday in March to cast your vote. Early voting for the primaries started at 8:00 am today and continues through noon on Friday. Here are the hours:

Early Voting for the Presidential Primary Election will be held at the Southborough Town House, 17 Common Street, Southborough, MA during the following times:

February 24 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
February 25 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
February 26 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
February 27 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
February 28 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Voters unable to vote during Early Voting or at the election on may request an absentee ballot be mailed to them.

Please contact Town Clerk Jim Hegarty if you have any questions.

If you prefer to wait to fill out the ballot, the regular voting day is next week on Tuesday, March 3rd. (If you aren’t registered, it’s too late for the Primary. But for future voting purposes, you can take care of that it in person at the Town Clerk’s office or online here.)

Remember, in Massachusetts anyone who is registered as “Unenrolled” in a party can choose which primary to vote in. In Southborough, that’s apparently about 60% of registered voters.

In addition to the big two, ballots are available for two 3rd parties. (Remember, if you are registered with a party, theirs is the only primary you can vote in.)

So who’s on the ballots?

Democratic ballot

15 Presidential candidates are listed, including many who have already dropped out. As of this morning, the following candidates are the ones still officially in the race: Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Gabbard, Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren. [Editor’s Note: Make that one less. Buttiegieg also dropped out.]

(There are also uncontested candidates for the state and Town party committees on the ballot.)

Republican ballot 

Three candidates are listed, but only William Weld is still officially running against President Trump. Republicans may assume that outcome is pre-determined, so there’s no reason to bother with their primary. But there is a contest at the state party committee level.

Three candidates are competing to be the “Committee Man” representing our “Middlesex & Worcester” District, and two to be the “Committee Woman”. (Town party committee candidates are uncontested.)

The Libertarian Party ballot 

10 candidates are listed as running for the Oval Office, though Kim Ruff has apparently pulled out. (No contested committee positions.)

Green-Rainbow Party ballot

4 candidates will run for Chief Executive. (No contested committee positions.)

Updated (3/2/20 11:46 am): Pete Buttigieg has dropped out of the race. That now means that only 6 of the 15 names that will be on the Democratic Ballot are still in the race.

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3 years ago

I had a question concerning political signs and theology signs and philosophy signs around town. I have a trump sign but it’s on my front lawn fully 20 feet from the road. I think the rule is the town or the state owns 10 feet on either side of the paved road and our signs needs to be further than 10 feet from the pavement . But I see all these democrat left liberals signs they’re literally out on the road. Does anybody know the rule and can we all play by the rules? I do.

Kelly Roney
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike

The town and the state own what they own. You can find plot boundaries in town maps on the town’s website. Google Maps has approximate versions, too. You couldn’t settle a dispute about exact boundaries without a survey, but these lines are good enough for this. Especially in older neighborhoods, property boundaries often go right up to the pavement.

In addition, I think that the town and state have rights of way by law over more of our real estate. This may be where Mike got the somewhat mistaken idea of 10 feet of ownership. But a right of way is not ownership, and a resident can clearly and obviously put a sign on a right of way she owns (or rents).

Further, it’s been customary for as long as I’ve lived in Southborough for people to put up signs where they can be seen, even if they are, for example, in front of a stone wall and thus technically on a road. Both parties and all political organizations have done this. As long as these signs are clearly associated with a private lot and they don’t block drivers’ and pedestrians’ views of traffic, I don’t see any reason to object to these.

Congrats to Mike for keeping his sign clearly on his own property. There used to be a custom (and I still observe it) that election-specific political signs should go up no more than 30 days before the election and come down within 3 days after the election, but that’s just a custom, not a law. In fact, Mike is exercising a First Amendment right that no town bylaw could override, even if we wanted it to.

I don’t know what “democrat left liberal” signs Mike’s objecting to. I haven’t seen any political campaign putting up signs, just the “Hate Has No Home Here” signs last year. I guess if those are “democrat left liberal”, then that says more about those who oppose it than anything. If the shoe fits…

Of course, there could be signs I don’t know about. Democratic campaigns used to run sign operations through the local Democratic Town Committee, but signs aren’t very effective for state-wide, Congressional, or national campaigns, so most of them don’t have sign operations any more. Instead, they allow people to buy their own signs and take responsibility for planting them and pulling them up.

Local campaigns still do signs. After all, they don’t have TV or radio ads.

My experience in political signs goes back 35 years in Southborough. In that time, Democrats have by far been more compliant with law and custom. We haven’t been perfect. I put a couple of signs into the wrong lot one year because I had the wrong street number, and I had to call the homeowner and apologize – pretty embarrassing to make the same mistake twice.

I’ve never seen a Democratic campaign that clearly targeted public land for its signs. Republican campaigns – only some, not all – have definitely done so. The biggest offenders, however, have probably been local non-partisan campaigns that could tell they were losing the sign battle. You’d think someone running for selectman, for example, would know how obvious it is that a sign under 495 or on Sudbury Reservoir property demonstrates no voter support.

A related topic that Mike didn’t raise: I see a lot of commercial signs on public property. These are illegal, and the DPW should treat them as litter.

Al Hamilton
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike

Mike –

There is no uniform standard for how close to the road the town owns. For more recent roads I believe the standard is 25 feet from the center line for typical 2 lane roads. For older roads (which are a lot of them in town) the borders can be all over the place. At my house it border is about 5-6 feet from the road edge other places on my road it is closer to 20 ft.

Certainly the “tradition” is that you put signs in front of your house near the road. I don’t think that any official is going to do anything about your putting a sign in front of your house.

John Butler
3 years ago

I researched this in 2017 and I cannot find any changes to the law since then. You can put up “temporary type” signs on your property that express a political or other similar opinion at any time and legally keep them up as long as you want without getting any permission from the Building Inspector. The Town can, and does, regulate such things as the size and illumination of signs, physical aspects, and ensure that they not interfere with traffic, but can’t regulate the content if it is political, or an opinion of some kind. It can’t legally regulate the duration of time that it is up if it is political in nature. If your “I like Ike” sign is still up, you’re legal, maybe a bit weird.

Furthermore in Massachusetts there are no laws limiting placement of political signs on State land. (It’s been kicked around the Legislature but never enacted statewide. Some agencies, such as MWRA, may have prohibitions. ), nor does the Town of Southborough bylaw contain any such limitation with respect to Town land. (Selectmen and School Committee could order removal of signs from the lands they control in Town respectively, if they voted to do so in open meeting, but I don’t know that they ever have.) The exceptions are the prohibition within 150 feet of a polling place while open, and anything that would interfere with traffic or safety, which are illegal. So I don’t see that the idea of needing to be 10ft back from the road has any basis in law, unless it is a peculiar spot that has traffic safety implications. With all the real estate sale signs closer to the road than that, it would be illegal to prevent political signs from being as close as those are.

Of course, if you annoy your neighbors, or put signs where people don’t think they should be, that’s not a good thing to have associated with your message. The informal social obligation in our Town of removing political signs promptly after elections is a courtesy consistent with that principle. Lets hope that most continue to observe it, even if not legally required to do so.

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