Easthampton to hold ranked-choice voting info sessions

  • Easthampton Municipal Building GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/15/2021 4:06:33 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Voters will have two chances this month to learn about ranked-choice voting and how to fill out the ballot in the upcoming city election.

The Easthampton Senior Center, 19 Union St., is hosting ranked-choice voting information sessions on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 11 a.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 6 p.m.

Ray Spaulding, treasurer of the Friends of the Easthampton Council on Aging, said each of the masked indoor gatherings can accommodate 23 people plus the two presenters who will explain the voting process. Those who wish to attend must make a reservation by calling (413) 527-6151, ext. 0.

The Nov. 2 election will be the first time in the city’s history that ranked-choice voting is used, following the approval of a ballot question in 2019. Voters will be asked to give each candidate a rank — 1, 2, 3, etc. — and winners are determined after multiple rounds of counting voters’ preferences.

Ranked-choice is only used in races with one seat, such as the mayor’s race, and not for positions like City Council at-large in which multiple winners are declared. There are three candidates for mayor on the ballot – Eric Berzins, incumbent Nicole LaChapelle, and Keith Routhier — and a fourth, Donald Torrey, has launched a write-in campaign.

Since there is only one City Council seat per ward, the winner will be chosen by ranked-choice voting, but because every incumbent is running for reelection unopposed, the rankings are unlikely to become a factor in determining the winners this year.

“Really, ranked-choice voting doesn’t play into that race this year because there’s no competition for the seats,” Spaulding, an election worker for the past 10 years, said.

Voters are not required to rank every candidate.

“Whoever they want to vote for, if they don’t want to use ranked-choice voting, they put number one,” Spaulding said.

All precincts will vote at Easthampton High School, 70 Williston Ave. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters can request a mail-in ballot by downloading and submitting a form on the Secretary of State’s office or by calling the city clerk’s office at 413-529-1400, ext. 460.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.

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