Southampton adds 2nd election precinct because of population growth

  • This is the final draft of a map showing the two electoral precincts in Southampton, as developed by the town clerk, town administrator, highway superintendent and Planning Board chair.

  • Southampton Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/10/2021 9:09:49 AM

SOUTHAMPTON — Following tops-in-the-county population growth over the last decade, Southampton will be adding a second election precinct for the first time in its history.

“We have become a two-precinct town,” said Town Clerk Luci Dalton.

Dalton said this won’t have an effect on Southampton’s form of government, but it will mean that there will now be two voting locations in Town Hall — one for each of the precincts.

“They’ll still be in this building,” she said.

Adding a precinct, which was mandated by the state, will mean the town will have to purchase a second voting tabulator, more voting booths, and hire more election workers, she said.

“We’re going to have to up our budget for elections,” Dalton said.

The state has provided a precinct map for the town, she said, but officials are waiting to learn which street numbers will be in each precinct.

Debra O’Malley, a spokeswoman for the secretary of the commonwealth’s office, said the law mandates that a town add a second precinct when its population reaches 6,200. Southampton’s population in the 2020 census was recorded as 6,224.

“If they had 25 fewer people they could have stayed at one,” O’Malley said.

Southampton had the highest percentage increase in population from the 2010 census to the 2020 census in Hampshire County, growing from 5,792 to 6,224, a 7.5% increase. Belchertown had the second-highest increase in this period in the county, with a 4.8% population increase.

Amherst, which experienced a 3.8% population increase, had the biggest population increase by the numbers, with the census reporting that 1,444 people were added to the community.

O’Malley said that so far this year, 37 communities in Massachusetts have had to add or remove precincts, although she said this number is a fluid one. Dalton worked with the state in the creation of Southampton’s new precinct map, she said, adding that Southampton is the only community in Hampshire County that had to change its number of precincts this year.

The new precincts in the commonwealth will go into effect on Dec. 31.

While Dalton said the town will be up to the challenge of adding a precinct, she said she hadn’t expected the change. The town now has a smaller population than the census tally, noting that the latest state-generated population report gives the town a population of 6,044.

“People have moved in and out,” Dalton said.

However, she noted that the census number is what is determinative.


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