Record low turnout at Chesterfield town election

  • ROBYN BECK/AFP/GETTY IMAGES/TNS ROBYN BECK/AFP/GETTY IMAGES/TNS

Staff Writer
Published: 5/4/2021 3:01:30 PM

CHESTERFIELD — Monday’s annual town election had the lowest number of votes cast in decades.

In the election, which featured no contested races on the ballot, 54 out of the town’s 972 registered voters voted, a 5.6% turnout.

“It’s sad, when you think about it,” said Sandy Wickland, Chesterfield’s town clerk.

Wickland said she looked back at annual town elections from 1988 to the present, and the 54 votes this year were the fewest in any of them, although she did find some elections that had vote totals in the high 50s. She also said that some candidates on the ballot did not vote.

Typically, for elections with contested town races, turnout can be in the high 100s or around 200, she said. Turnout is higher in Chesterfield for state and federal elections, she added.

In last year’s presidential election, Chesterfield had an 85% voter turnout.

While everyone on the ballot was elected this year, Ed Severance did receive seven write-in votes for a seat on the Select Board, which was won by veteran Select Board member Roger Fuller with 39 votes.

This year’s annual town election featured three positions on the ballot with no one running for them. However, write-in votes failed to fill any of them.

Megan Shiels-Willard received the only vote for a one-year term on the Hampshire Regional School Committee. However, she has informed Wickland that she will not be accepting the office she won.

In the race for a three-year term on the Hampshire Regional School Committee, Mary Ellen Blais, Donald Willard, Jennifer Bak and Trish Colson-Montgomery each got a single vote, resulting in a four-way tie. There was also a five-way tie for a two-year seat on the Planning Board, where Denise Cormier, Ed Severance, Daniel White, Heidi Pruzynski and Carol Rhine each got one vote.

Wickland said the ties mean there’s no clear winner in either race. As such, they will remain vacant, until they are filled by appointment by the Select Board, a circumstance the clerk said is “not unusual.” The terms of those appointed will last until the next annual town election.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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