Brisk first day of early voting in Athol

  • On Saturday, the first day of early voting in Massachusetts, a voter picks up her ballot from Athol Town Clerk Nancy Burnham as Assistant Town Clerk Carol Bachelder assists. Bachelder said 170 Athol voters cast ballots during the four hours the polls were open. Staff Photo/Greg Vine

  • Athol voters fill out ballots last Saturday, the first day of early voting in Massachusetts. Staff Photo/Greg Vine

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 10/21/2020 9:47:32 AM
Modified: 10/21/2020 9:47:26 AM

ATHOL — Some said it seemed strange that the first day of early voting in Massachusetts would fall on a Saturday, but the timing didn’t seem to deter many Athol voters from casting a ballot — either out of convenience or enthusiasm for a particular candidate. Assistant Town Clerk Carol Bachelder said 170 people showed up to cast a ballot during the four hours the polls were open Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Well, I just think that if I have the time and convenience of doing it now,” said Barbara Savoy, “I just never know what’s going to happen. I actually take care of my 103-year-old mother. I’m right here and I was free today, so this was really convenient.”

Savoy did say she had considered the option of voting by mail but opted instead to cast a ballot in person.

Asked if she had concerns about voting by mail, she said, “No, it’s just a preference. I like to be hands-on. I like coming here; I like the whole process. I want to be part of the process.”

Enthusiasm, however, didn’t figure into Savoy’s decision.

“No. I’m not enthusiastic at all about anybody,” she said, while declining to say who her choice was for president. “It’s a very difficult situation because there’s so much controversy. I mean, this is really bad. And it never bothered me to say anything, but I don’t want to get into anything with anyone.”

“I was planning on going on (Nov.) 3rd, but my wife asked me if I wanted to go today,” said Jim Geikie, “because she wanted to vote today.”

“I wanted to come early so there wouldn’t be so many people standing in line,” his wife Betsy interjected.

“I don’t mind going out for this,” said Jim. “I’m not afraid.”

“If I can go to the grocery store, I can come vote; that’s the way I look at it,” Betsy concluded.

Michael Doyle said his decision was based in part on convenience.

“Well, sometimes I’m out of town, so I wanted to make sure I get to vote.”

He added that enthusiasm for one of the candidates also motivated his decision to vote early. He said many of his friends have told him they planned to take advantage of early in-person voting, rather than voting by mail.

“To be honest with you,” he said, “with everything that’s been going on in politics — there’s so much hatred out there — I don’t trust it. So, I’d rather come down and cast my vote in person.”

Hours for early in-person voting are available on the town’s website, athol-ma.gov. Click the “Government” link at the top of the home page, then choose “Town Clerk.” Once on the Town Clerk page, click the “Election Information” link in the left margin. The page provides details for both mail-in and early in-person voting, as well as voting hours on election day, Nov. 3.

Balloting will take place in Liberty Hall at Town Hall every day until Oct. 30, which is the final day for early voting.

The Election Information page also provides a link to apply for a vote by mail application. Ballots can be returned by mail or deposited in the drop box outside of Town Hall; they may not be delivered to the polling location on Election Day.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by the Town Clerk by 5 p.m., Nov. 6. Those placed in the drop box at Town Hall must be dropped off no later than 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.

Polls at Town Hall on Election Day will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


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