HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Voting is our civic duty, but it can be inconvenient. You must be able to get to your polling station and have the time to vote. If not, your only other option in years past was voting with an absentee ballot. This year, for the first time, Massachusetts voters will have early voting in an 11-day period before Election Day, November 8.
22News went to the Massachusetts Town and City Clerks Association meeting in Springfield Thursday morning, where clerks got more comfortable with state guidelines on early voting. Many early voting booths will be at city or town halls across the Commonwealth.
Holyoke City Clerk Brenna Murphy McGee has been working on the City’s plan to staff and plan early voting for months. She released the City’s schedule earlier this week. Murphy McGee said in addition to opening early and closing late some days at City Hall, “We also are going to do two days at the Holyoke Senior Center and also one day at the Holyoke Soldiers Home, and I chose the locations I did because Holyoke City Hall is located in Ward 1, and I wanted to spread out the other locations throughout the City.”
Unlike on Election Day, you will be able to vote at any early voting location in your community, regardless of your precinct.
The Secretary of State’s Office has certain requirements that all cities and towns must follow, such as offering early voting sessions during regular business hours. However, some places like Holyoke are expanding on that by staying open later some days.
In places like South Hadley, they’re making it into a big social event. “We’re looking at innovative ideas: date night for our late nights, that will be happening as well as breakfast ideas, we’re looking at a rag shag parade,” said South Hadley Town Clerk Carlene Hamlin. She said they’ll also offer trick-or-treating weekend days to attract children and parents and teach families the importance of voting.
It’s all about voter turnout. Hamlin said last presidential election, South Hadley had nearly 96 percent voter turnout.
The only stipulation this year is that you must be registered to vote ahead of time.
Early voting is from October 24 to November 4.