Early Voting begins Saturday for State Election

Oct 15, 2020 by

Published October 15, 2020

NORTH READING — Early Voting leading up to Election Day 2020 begins this Saturday, October 17 and continues every day thereafter for 14 days, through Friday, October 30, inclusive, statewide.

This two-week Early Voting period to determine the next president and other down ballot office holders, such as members of Congress and the State Legislature, is being held in addition to ongoing mail-in balloting currently taking place during this quadrennial election.

The cut-off date to register to vote to be eligible in time for the November 3 election is Saturday, October 24.

Voters who previously applied for their mail-in ballots should have begun receiving them last week. Mail-in ballot applications may be requested through Wednesday, October 28. More than 4,500 mail-in applications have been received by the Town Clerk’s office and processed already. Staff began mailing them out to voters as soon as they were provided to the town by the Secretary of State’s office. Voters may check the status of their mail-in ballot application and receipt of their ballot online at: www.sec.state.ma.us/wheredoivotema/track/trackmyballot.aspx

As long as mailed-in ballots are postmarked by Election Day and arrive at Town Hall no later than Friday, November 6 at 5 p.m. they will be counted, according to Secretary of State Bill Galvin.

Ballots dropped off in the designated ballot drop off box in front of Town Hall do not get postmarked, therefore those ballots must be deposited by 8 p.m. on Election Day, November 3 to be counted, after which the box will be locked.

In addition to mail-in voting and Early Voting, the polls will be open for in-person voting on the traditional Election Day, which is Tuesday, November 3, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters in all four of the town’s precincts vote at the centralized polling location at St. Theresa’s church hall.

Specifics related to this year’s Early Voting process have been compiled by Town Clerk Barbara Stats as follows:

The 14-day Early Voting period includes two consecutive Saturdays and Sundays to accommodate those who work weekdays.

Early Voting hours from Saturday, October 17 through Friday, October 30 will be as follows: 

• Weekend hours: Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

• Weekday hours: Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

In order to exercise proper distancing protocols, Early Voting will take place in the Town Hall gym, 235 North St. Entry to the Town Hall will only be through the main front doors closest to the gym, which is located to the immediate left once inside the lobby. Since the Town Hall is still closed to the public (except by appointment), all other doors of the Town Hall will remain closed. Once inside the front doors, voters will be required to go directly into the gym where they will check-in and receive both a ballot and an envelope for sealing their ballot.

• Voters may bring a black or blue pen to mark their ballot. They also have the option to use a disposable pencil available at the check-in area. Marking pens will not be left in the booths. The envelope containing the ballot must be signed by the voter, or the ballot cannot be processed. 

• Electronic Poll Pads will once again be used for check-in; a driver’s license will expedite the process but is not required – the voter may simply state his or her name and verify their address. Inactive voters will still be required to provide ID and sign an “Affidavit of Current and Continuance Residency” prior to casting their ballot.

• Voters are required to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth, and to exercise proper distancing while waiting to enter the Town Hall or the gym, as well as during voting and exiting. Medically exempt unmasked voters will be directed to a separate voting booth. 

• Voting booths will also be limited and spaced to accommodate distancing. After marking the ballot, the voter will seal it in the envelope provided at the check-in area and sign the envelope where indicated. In order to maintain distancing, voters must exit from the back door of the gym after leaving their signed and sealed ballot envelope with the check-out clerk.

Anyone who is ill, has a fever, unexplained cough, chills, sore throat, muscle pain, shortness of breath or new loss of taste or smell should stay home. Please do not put others at risk if you have any such symptoms. 

“We appreciate your understanding and anticipated compliance with these procedures in order to provide a safe voting environment for everyone,” Stats said.

Additional information regarding this election, including sample ballots, can be found on the town’s website at: www.northreadingma.gov/town-clerk.

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