Massachusetts Primaries Set for Tuesday, Wakefield Moves to One Polling Station
Aug 23, 2018 09:00AM
● By Dan Marra
Wakefield has been narrowing the number of election sites where residents can vote for a few years. This year, beginning with this past spring special election and continuing into the primary elections this Tuesday, Sept. 4, Wakefield residents will be voting at one polling location.
There had been seven locations at one point, there were four locations last year, but now all voters will be casting their ballot at the Galvin Middle School.
While there were concerns from residents about moving from neighborhood locations – the West Side Social Club or the Masonic Temple, for example – Betsy Sheeran, Wakefield Town Clerk said that it makes too much sense to move to one location.
“Having it at one location just makes it much easier,” Sheeran said. “It’s on a bus route, the facility is more up-to-date, there’s more parking and more handicap parking. The Council on Aging offers transportation and someone from the clerk’s office will always be present in case an issue arises.”
According to Sheeran, this has been a move that has been a long time coming for Wakefield. One issue arose for the town back in 2016, when the date of the primaries was moved. Since Wakefield had to rent out the locations at the time, the new date at one of the polling place was already reserved. Additionally, with a generator at the middle school, the town, and Sheeran don’t have to worry about blackouts curtailing the election process.
But while she’s mindful of residents’ concerns, Sheeran believes moving to a centralized location – like Stoneham and North Reading have done – makes the most sense for the town.
“The last thing we’d want to do is disenfranchise voters,” Sheeran said.
While unlikely Wakefield will transition back to multiple polling locations, Sheeran admits that this will not be the ideal election to compare voter turnout to previous elections. With the primaries set for the day after Labor Day because of the Jewish holidays falling on the other possible election days, voter turnout this year will be tricky to predict.
“After a long weekend, it’s going to be tough to get a good turnout,” she said.