Resident critical of centralized voting

May 16, 2018 by

Published in the May 16, 2018 edition

By MARK SARDELLA

WAKEFIELD — Mitchell Lane resident Lennie Malvone thinks that the recent decision to go to centralized elections with everyone voting at the Galvin Middle School was a mistake. This week he told the Town Council the reasons why he disagrees with the decision. 

Earlier this year, the then Board of Selectmen (now Town Council) voted to do away with neighborhood polling places and have all precincts in future elections vote at the Galvin Middle School starting with the State Primary Election in September

Speaking during public participation at Monday’s Town Council meeting, Malvone said that he initially had no issue with the idea of centralized voting — until he worked the polls at the recent town election, the last one to use neighborhood polling places.

“I heard a lot of complaints,” Malvone said, “mostly from senior citizens.” One of the concerns he heard was about the potential for traffic problems with everyone in town voting one location, especially during heavy turnout presidential elections. He also heard seniors say that it would be more difficult for them to get to a centralized polling place than their old neighborhood polling place.

Malvone acknowledged plans to offer seniors bus shuttle service to the polling place, but he saw two problems with that. First, seniors could potentially be waiting for the bus in inclement weather. Second, having to depend on a bus to get to a polling place outside of their neighborhood robs seniors of a measure of their independence. 

Additionally, Malvone said that many seniors felt that they hadn’t had an opportunity to weigh in on the idea of centralized voting before the decision was made.

But most importantly, Malvone said, the decision to centralize voting takes the neighborhoods out of the process. People, especially seniors, like the idea of going to the polls to vote at their leisure and spend some time socializing with their neighbors and friends.

Seniors, he said, are known to be a part of the population that votes in high numbers, Malvone added. “They’re the ones who really come out and do their civic duty.”

“I fear that by centralizing voting, we may in fact be disenfranchising them,” he said, “by forcing them to deal with a whole lot of things that don’t need to be in their way.”

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The Town Council this week approved a request from the Wakefield Independence Day Committee to hold this year’s Fourth of July Parade on Wednesday, July 4, beginning at 4:30 p.m. The board also approved using Quannapowitt Parkway as a staging area for the parade, which will then proceed down North Avenue, turn left on Church Street, turn right onto Common Street and continue down Main Street to the Galvin Middle School.

Town Council also approved permission for the WIDC and the West Side Social Club to have exclusive control of all vendors present around the immediate vicinity of the parade route including Vets Field, Veterans Memorial Common, the Lower Common and 100 feet on both sides surrounding the entire parade route.

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The Town Council approved several requests from the Event Planning Committee related to the annual Festival Italia on Aug. 19 between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. including street closures from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.

The approved street closures are as follows: Main Street be closed to southbound vehicular traffic from Crescent Street (south) to Richardson Ave. Main Street will be closed to northbound vehicular traffic from Water Street to Crescent Street. Albion Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from Main St. to North Avenue. Additional closings include Centre Street from Main Street to the rear of alano building and Princess Street from Main Street to the Lindquist building.

The following streets will also have limited access to Main Street: Avon and Chestnut streets, and Foster Street will have no access to Albion Street. The Committee will meet with the Town’s logistics team, as required prior to the event to ensure vehicular and pedestrian safety and will work with the DPW to address its needs for event day.

The Town Council also approved the EPC’s request to utilize the Lincoln Street parking lot (if necessary) and the use of all municipal parking areas (if available) for Festival parking.

The council also approved a 10-day liquor license for the EPC to purchase Beer and Wine which would allow them to obtain and transport alcohol two days prior to the event and to return it two days past the weekend. The alcohol is to be used at possible locations within or associated with the event/area, for sale by the EPC staff. The councilors also granted the Event Committee the ability to extend the liquor licenses of those restaurants participating in the event to a predetermined area in front of their businesses.

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In other business this week, the Town Council:

• Approved a request from Judy Luciano, director of the Council on Aging, to accept and expend a gift or gifts from the Council on Aging in the amount of $2,800 from various donors.

• Approved a request from the Americal Civic Center to accept and expend a gift to the Americal Civic Center Association in the amount of $6,000.

• Approved a request from a local Girl Scout troop to have a Kindness Rock Garden at Hall Park.

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