Registrars to review affidavits Friday in Jones Library case

  • Jones Library in Amherst GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/4/2021 3:44:37 PM

AMHERST — The town’s Board of Registrars is expected to meet Friday to determine how to handle affidavits submitted by residents who claim their signatures were inappropriately invalidated on a Jones Library project voter veto petition drive.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman told the Town Council Monday that the meeting will come after a 14-day period to appeal the certification of signatures by the town clerk’s office. The petitioners did begin challenging the signature count immediately after it was announced.

The town clerk’s review of petition sheets showed 842 people signed the voter veto petition to bring the $36.3 million expansion and renovation of the library to a townwide referendum. The number was less than the 864 people, or 5% of voters as of the November 2019 town election, needed to trigger such action.

Proponents of the petition say they have submitted 51 affidavits from residents who claim their signatures were wrongly invalidated.

A Hampshire Superior Court judge last week rejected an effort to extend the deadline for signature collection and grant other relief to petitioners due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During public comment Monday to the Town Council, Joanna Morse of Potwine Lane said she was disappointed to learn her signature was not counted and, as she described it, “shocked” that the clerk’s office would offer her no explanation for why it was not considered valid.

Maria Kopicki of Country Corners Road told councilors that residents, whether they support, oppose or are indifferent to the Jones Library project, are owed reasons for how signatures were tallied.

“We should all be concerned when people are disenfranchised,” Kopicki said.

The town is continuing to move forward with the project, including forming a building committee and submitting documents to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, which is providing a $13.87 million grant.


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