Early voting begins next week for March 3 election 

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Staff Writer
Published: 2/18/2020 9:06:16 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Beginning Monday, residents throughout Massachusetts will have an opportunity to cast their ballots in the state’s presidential primary, more than a week before the actual Super Tuesday vote.

For the third time in a statewide election, the secretary of the commonwealth’s office is requiring all cities and towns to offer early voting between next Monday and Friday. At a minimum, each municipality must have one location available for early voting during regular business hours.

Easthampton

Though this will be the initial early voting for a presidential primary, Easthampton City Clerk Barbara LaBombard said many residents will already be accustomed to the process. They can drop by the Municipal Building at 50 Payson Ave. during regular hours — 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday. The city is also adding 8 a.m. to noon early voting on Friday, a day city offices are typically be closed.

Voters in Easthampton will have the option to cast two ballots, one for the presidential primary by selecting a Democratic, Republican, Green Rainbow or Libertarian ballot, the other for the special state primary election for the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District to fill the seat of state Sen. Donald Humason, R-Westfield, who vacated the seat and is now the mayor of Westfield.

Even though some communities have multiple polling places for regular elections, most will offer early voting at just one site, usually a city hall, town hall or other municipal building.

“By default, towns using a single location are doing so in their town clerk’s office, unless that location is not suitable,” said Debra O’Malley, spokeswoman for the secretary of the commonwealth.

Northampton

In Northampton, for instance, early voting will be at City Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, except next Thursday, when it will extend to 7 p.m. As in Easthampton, Northampton voters will have two ballots to cast, one for the presidential primary and the other for a proposed $2.5 million Proposition 2½ general override.

O’Malley said there is an option of adding other locations for early voting, but locally only Amherst and Holyoke are offering these alternative sites.

Amherst

In Amherst, where Town Hall will have early voting during normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the off-site location is on the University of Massachusetts campus.

Beginning Tuesday and running through Thursday from 4 to 7:30 p.m., Bartlett Hall will have voting booths set up.

Amherst Town Clerk Shavena Martin said she is excited to have this arrangement with UMass, where any registered voter in Amherst can go to vote. “So that way, students and faculty will have an opportunity to early vote on campus,” Martin said.

Holyoke

In Holyoke, the early voting runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day at City Hall, with the off-site location being the Senior Center, where voting will be taking place Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon

Other towns

Most of the larger communities have early voting available all five days at their town and city offices, including Belchertown, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.; Deerfield and Hadley, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.; and South Hadley, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., except Thursday, when voting hours will be from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In smaller communities, the early voting window may be shorter. Hatfield will have early voting for three days, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the conference room at the safety complex, while Goshen will have early voting for just one day, Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m., at the John James Memorial Hall.

For a full listing of the times and locations of early voting, go to https://www.sec.state.ma.us/EarlyVotingWeb/EarlyVotingSearch.aspx.

On March 3, when the presidential primary coincides with voting in several other states, the polling locations in cities and towns return to traditional voting sites, such as schools, churches and municipal buildings.

O’Malley said there is a cost to having early voting and that the state auditor has previously determined that this will be covered by the state.

“The Legislature has not yet appropriated money for that reimbursement, so it is something we will need to go back to the Legislature for after the primary, as we have for the 2016 and 2018 elections,” O’Malley said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.



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