By Beth David, Editor
Now that construction is finished on the new library, all Acushnet voters are back in their own precincts for voting day.
Precinct 1 will continue to be at the Council on Aging Senior Center at 59 1/2 So. Main Street. That one was never moved.
Voters in Precinct 2 will vote at the Grange, 1121 Main Street. Precinct 2 voters will not be going back to the Middle Road location because the new library cannot accommodate two precincts, the way the old Community Center was able to.
Precinct 3 voters will be going back to 232 Middle Road, where they had been going before construction started.
Precinct 1 is the only precinct that is in the same place it has always been.
All voters are now back voting within their precincts, said Acushnet Town Clerk Pam Labonte.
And that is how it should stay.
She said postcards went out to all precinct three voters notifying them of the change. Precinct two moved before the primaries in September, but she will send a postcard reminder because turnout was so light.
Early voting starts Monday
This year, in addition to absentee ballots, all Massachusetts voters will be able to vote early.
To get an absentee ballot, voters much give a reason, such as being out of town on election day. Absentee voting has already started.
Early voting, which is new this year, allows people to vote before election day without giving a reason why. All municipalities are required to accommodate early voters.
Ms. Labonte said that the actual ballots for early voters and absentee voter will be mostly handled the same way.
Voters can go online at http:// www.sec.state.ma.us/ele and print out an application. They can sign and fax or mail it in so that a ballot will be mailed to them, or they can take it to the clerk’s office in person.
After Monday, voters will be able to vote in person.
In Acushnet, a ballot box will be set up in the clerk’s office.
Ms. Labonte said, and told the Selectboard, that if it gets busy, the voting will move to the town hall meeting room. She said that the state has advised that early voting tends to get busy three days before voting closes, which is on Friday, 11/4 at noon. Election day is Tuesday, 11/8.
“We will have everything set up there, so that we can make a very quick transition,” said Ms. Labonte.
She said she does not have the budget to staff a separate space for the entire early voting period.
“With a tight budget, I can’t see getting two extra people to sit in a room and twiddle their thumbs,” she said.
Absentee voters, that is, those who have a reason for not being able to get to the polls on 11/8, face a deadline of 11/7. There are a couple of exceptions for medical reasons, so voters are encouraged to call their local clerk’s office to make sure.
Every effort is made to allow people to vote.
The deadline to register to vote was October 19.
Ms. Labonte said that in Acushnet, the ballots that were cast early will be delivered to the precincts early in the morning on election day, 11/8.
They will be taken from the sealed box at town hall that morning. Then a registrar and a clerk from her office will accompany the ballots and will be with them at all times until they are placed into the ballot boxes at the precincts. The envelopes will remain sealed until the moment they are placed in the ballot boxes.
The registrar and the clerk “are to stick together under dual control and stay together until every ballot is put into the ballot box,” said Ms. Labonte.
They will go to each precinct and do the same.
“I want every single ballot, from start to finish to be viewed only by those few people,” said Ms. Labonte. “I treat the ballots, and my people know to treat the ballots, like they’re money.”
There are specific hours for early voting that Check with your local clerk’s office for hours and locations of early voting stations.
Early voting can be done at Town Hall, 122 Main St., Monday, 10/24, through Friday, 11/4, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Tuesdays, 10/25 and 11/1, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Those voters interested in early voting by mail may do so by completing an Early Voting application found on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website: http:// www.sec.state.ma.us/ele and mailing the completed application to
• Acushnet Residents: Acushnet Town Clerk, 122 Main St., Acushnet, MA 02743.
The last date to request ballots by mail is November 4. All ballots must reach the clerk’s office by 11/8.
Click to download the entire 10/20/16 issue: 10-20-16-halloweentrail