Town clerks on voter registration, early voting changes

Staff Writer
Published: 8/14/2020 2:14:16 PM
Modified: 8/14/2020 2:14:04 PM

Various town officials have announced important dates and temporary voting locations for 2020 voter registration, mail-in voting and in-person voting for the upcoming primary and general elections.

The Nov. 3 general election most notably includes the presidential election. The Sept. 1 state primary election also includes a couple of notable contests.

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat, is running for re-election, with challengers from both parties. State Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a Democrat, is challenging Markey for their party’s nomination. Two Republicans, Kevin O’Connor and Shiva Ayyadurai, are running for their party’s nomination.

U.S. House Rep. Richard Neal, a Democrat, who is running for re-election, is in a race with Alex Morse, the Democratic mayor of Holyoke, for their party’s nomination

The primary election is Tuesday, Sept. 1 and the commonwealth has mailed absentee ballot requests to all registered voters. The last day for voter registration is Saturday, Aug. 24. Residents may also register to vote online at The last day to request a mail in ballot is Monday, Aug. 26.


According to Town Clerk Nancy Burnham, Athol will hold early voting Aug. 22 and Aug. 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The following week it will be held Aug. 24 to Aug. 28, during regular Town Hall hours. While Town Hall is not normally open Fridays, it will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 28. Burnham said the town has responded to over 1,000 requests for mail in ballots.

“I don’t anticipate a lot of foot traffic at the polls,” Burnham said.

The polls will be open for in-person voting Sept. 1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Town Hall. Just as it did for the Annual Town Election in June, Athol has moved its polling location from Memorial Hall, which is on the first floor of Town Hall, to Liberty Hall, which is at ground level, the location of the building’s handicap entrance.


Greenfield City Clerk Kathy Scott said her office is already “terribly busy” processing registrations and applications for mail-in ballots. She said the city had sent out over 2,800 ballots and was already beginning to receive them back. Residents must complete, sign, and mail their registration to the City Clerk’s Office, 14 Court Square, Greenfield, MA 01301. Any in person voters will cast their ballot at the City Clerk’s Office in Room 104, City Hall, 14 Court Square. While she said it would be hard to predict it’s affect on in-person voter turnout, Scott said she expects “a plethora of mail in applications.”

“We received about 500 today,” Scott said Monday.

The Greenfield City Clerk’s Office will be open from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 22 for the Sept. 1 state primary voter registration. Applications for state primary absentee ballots by mail must be received by the clerk’s office no later than 5 p.m Aug. 26.


In anticipation of a high number of mail-in ballots, Shelburne Town Clerk Joe Judd said the Selectboard approved the purchase of a $1,000 mail and ballot dropbox. He said he thought this was a small price to pay for peoples’ security. It will also allow residents to drop them off outside of the Judd’s office hours. While he has yet to pick a location for the locked dropbox, Judd said placing it outside the building would allow for complete no-contact drop-off.

“They won’t even have to touch a doorknob,” Judd said.

He said the drop box is set for delivery Aug. 14 and it will be installed soon after.

Shelburne has roughly 1410 registered voters, and the town clerk’s office has already responded to over 400 requests for mail-in ballots. He said the town had never received so many requests, and predicted a majority of residents this year would vote via mail. For those who are still interested in in-person voting, early voting will be held at the Cowell Gymnasium. The town held its first polling day at the gymnasium for June’s town elections.

“We’d been looking to change the polling location, but COVID-19 gave it a boost,” Judd said.

Early in-person voting will be open Aug. 22 and Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as well as Aug. 24, Aug. 25 and Aug. 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The polls will then be open on Sept. 1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Charlemont Selectboard Chair Marguerite Willis said residents should fill out their ballots and mail them in as soon as possible. She also noted that voters must indicate which ballot they may want if they are registered as “unenrolled,” which most call independent. Per the new regulations for town clerks by the Secretary of State, a clerk has the option to call a voter to ask which ballot they want or not.

“Our town clerk is able so far, but as the schedule tightens, that may not be an option,” Willis said. “Town clerks must enter into their state election computer all who have voted each day they are open, and the behind the scenes paperwork can be time consuming.”

Charlemont Town Hall hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It is currently open to the public only for voting and voter registration purposes. Visitors are asked to observe any rules posted outside the door. The Charlemont town clerk will be available for voter registration and early in-person voting from 2 to 4 p.m., and 7 to 8 p.m. Aug. 22. On Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020 in person early voting will be available from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. On Aug. 24, 25, 26, and 27 in person voting will be available at Town Hall from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Information for voter registration and early voting will also be available on the Charlemont town website under the town clerk page. Under new rules promulgated to town clerks recently, the state will need to inspect places towns choose to use as temporary voting locations. Willis said any potential changes regarding polling location, and other pertinent information will be announced when available.


For the September state primary and November general elections, Gill officials have chosen to move the town’s polling location to Town Hall due to COVID-19 pandemic related issues. Town Clerk Doreen Stevens said the normal site at the town’s fire station is too cramped for social distancing.

“It was not a tight space until this year,” Stevens said. “But if we’re trying to maintain space between voters and election workers. It’s too tight.”

The Town Hall meeting room could comfortably hold eight voting booths, she said. The room is upstairs but is accessible by elevator. Markings on the floor will show voters how much space to leave for social distancing. While Steven said mail-in ballots will likely be more popular this year, and could lead to lighter in-person turnout, she also noted that the November election, which includes the presidential election, could still draw an especially high in-person attendance.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at or 413-930-4579.

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