Lawmakers encourage people to vote; thank town clerks, postal workers

  • State Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, answers radio host Christopher “Monte” Belmonte’s questions about voting in Massachusetts during a live broadcast at Mike’s Maze in Sunderland on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

  • State Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, answers radio host Christopher “Monte” Belmonte’s questions about voting in Massachusetts during a live broadcast at Mike’s Maze in Sunderland on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

  • Shutesbury Town Clerk Grace Bannasch talks about preparing for the 2020 election season during an event at Mike’s Maze in Sunderland on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

  • Radio host Christopher “Monte” Belmonte emcees Suffrage Succotash, an event held Saturday at Mike’s Maze aimed at encouraging residents to register and vote. STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

  • Radio host Christopher “Monte” Belmonte emcees Suffrage Succotash, an event held Saturday at Mike’s Maze aimed at encouraging residents to register and vote. STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer
Published: 10/19/2020 1:10:18 PM

SUNDERLAND — Marking the first day of early voting in Massachusetts, local lawmakers took the opportunity Saturday to urge voters to make a plan for voting and to stick with it — whether that means voting by mail, voting early or going to the polls on Nov. 3.

“I want people to realize how important this right (to vote) is,” said Congressman Jim McGovern while at Mike’s Maze in Sunderland.

After several stops around Franklin County — including a flu clinic in Shelburne Falls, the Montague Wood Bank, Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield and a Biden-Harris standout in Whately — McGovern, state Sen. Jo Comerford and state Rep. Natalie Blais joined radio host Christopher “Monte” Belmonte for a live broadcast via The River and WHMP to discuss the importance of voting.

“I believe that voting is our superpower,” said Comerford, D-Northampton, noting expanded access to voting that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s the way we elect people to represent us in ways we think are best.”

The culminating event at Mike’s Maze, called Suffrage Succotash, was an opportunity for the three lawmakers to answer questions about elections and voting. It was also an opportunity to meet with constituents and to thank the people who make elections possible — namely, postal workers and town clerks.

“On our first day of early voting, we wanted to come down and thank the people who make it possible,” Comerford said.

McGovern, who is running for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives seat for Massachusetts’ 2nd Congressional District against Republican Tracy Lovvorn, echoed those sentiments.

“People like (Sunderland Town Clerk) Wendy (Houle) and others are making sure people are safe and comfortable,” he said. “They’re cheering for her today, because they’re grateful for the incredible job she’s doing.”

Newly elected Shutesbury Town Clerk Grace Bannasch also received a round of applause at Saturday’s event. She answered questions about the role of town clerks in elections as well as what drew her to the role this spring.

“It’s such a privilege to serve my town,” she said.

Prior to being elected to the position in June, Bannasch served as assistant town clerk — a job she loved, she said.

“It’s been a lot of hard work,” she said of the current election season. “I’m really excited to celebrate everybody else who does this work.”

Blais, D-Sunderland, asked voters to “spread the word,” and use social media to encourage others to vote.

“Please help us spread the word about how to protect our democracy,” she said.




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