Staff Reports On: 01:33PM / Tuesday November 06, 2012
Berkshire County voters turned out in droves on Tuesday to select President Barack Obama for re-election and Elizabeth Warren as the state's first woman U.S. senator. County voters also came out strong for statewide ballot questions that would force automobile dealers to provide their software to independent auto repair shops by a wide margin and the use of medial marijuana, which also passed.
A non-binding resolution opposing the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, also found strong support.
A more controversial question, the so-called "death with dignity" or physician-assisted suicide, also found some support, although by late Tuesday it did not appear to have passed statewide.
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, easily cruised to re-election in the 4th Berkshire District against Green/Rainbow challenger Lee Scott Laugenour. Michael Albano, former mayor of Springfield, won the 8th District seat on the Governor's Council against Republican Michael Franco.
Lester Dumoulin removes the ballots in Clarksburg at the end of Tuesday's election that saw high turnout for the presidential and U.S. Senate races.
Adams Town Clerk Haley Meczywor was a little harried as the polls were closing on Tuesday. She'd seen nearly 3,700 voters come through the door since 7 that morning.
"This is my first presidential election," said Meczywor. "I've done other elections, but this was the first presidential one."
Adams saw a 66 percent turnout in the end, with 3,926 of its 5,981 registered cast ballots. Meczywor said it was a constant stream throughout the day that had just tapered off around 7:30.
The Obama ticket won the day with 3,010 votes to Romney's 818. The independents did well in Adams, with Libertarian Gary Johnson garnering 52 votes and Judith Stein getting 25.
Warren continued her impressive victory in Berkshire County with 2,688 votes to Brown's 1,198.
On the ballot questions, Adams gave thumbs up to No.1, the right to repair bill, 2,588-917; No. 2, the "death with dignity" question at a close 1,928-1,864; and No. 3, medical marijuana at 2,339-1,409. The nonbinding No. 4 resolution on overturning the Citizens United decision polled 2,564 to 718.
Meczywor said a number of Democratic observers and one independent were on hand earlier in the day during some of the busiest times. "It was crazy," she said.
Clarksburg also saw a high turnout of 76 percent, although Town Clerk Carol Jammalo had been hoping for 80.
"It's still good, it was a good day," she said as the ballots were being removed from the boxes for counting by polling worker Lester Dumoulin.
The results were the same as other towns: Warren pulled in 515 votes to defeat Brown's 334; Obama dominated even more, taking 613 to Romney's 232.
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, running unopposed, only polled 680 votes, or about 60 percent. On the ballot questions, Clarksburg voters also passed three No. 1, 617-207; No. 3, to 480-431; No. 4, 549-159. Voters balked at No. 2, the physician-assisted suicide, narrowly defeating it 436-408. Question appeared to have been defeated statewide even as the other statewide questions passed.
WILLIAMSTOWN & LANESBOROUGH
Early reports of high turnout in the northwest part of Berkshire County proved to be reliable.
By day's end, 77 percent of the registered voters in Williamstown and 73 percent of the registered voters in Lanesborough cast ballots in the presidential election.
"I'm glad it's over," Lanesborough Town Clerk Judith Gallant said at the end of a long day. "We had 1,612 voters out of 2,205 registered voters. That's an excellent turnout for us."
No. 1 - Yes 987; No 364
No. 2 - Yes 1,016; No 535
No. 3 - Yes 1,017; No 529
No. 4 - Yes 1,031; No 264
No. 1 - Yes 2,590; No 700
No. 2 - Yes 2,552; No 1,069
No. 3 - Yes 2,653; No 978
No. 4 - Yes 2,823; No 494
*No. 1, right to repair; No. 2, physician-assisted suicide; No. 3, medical marijuana; No. 4, nonbinding resolution against Citizens United decision
Mount Greylock School Committee (more info here) Williamstown
Lanesborough seat (one seat available) - Dodig 448; Hebert 563; Schiek 243
Williamstown seats (two seats available) - Backus 613; Taylor 779
Not surprisingly, each town went overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidates in the only two contested races.
Eighty-one percent of Williamstown's votes were garnered by President Obama, who got 3,012 votes to Gov. Mitt Romney's 640.
In Lanesborough, Romney fared slightly better, but still lost 1,144-430. Obama took 72 percent of the votes in the town.
Brown Warren won in Williamstown 3-1, gaining 2,921 votes to Brown's 789 votes. Lanesborough also went blue, handing Warren 1,078 votes to Brown's 499.
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, running unopposed, talled 1,251 votes in Lanesborough and 3,038 in Williamstown. All other offices were unopposed.
PITTSFIELD The city saw a turnout of 66.5 percent, with Obama polling 15,600 votes and Romney at 4,044. Warren picked up 14,438 votes to incumbent Republican Scott Brown's 5,397.
The city passed all ballot questions: No. 1, 12,736 to 4,306; No. 2, 10,133 to 8,830; No. 3, 12,244 to 6,479; and No. 4, 12,308 to 3,490. Question No. 5, which appeared on South County ballots and one city precinct, was nonbinding call for Congress not to cut social services. It passed in Pittsfield 819-377
11:20 p.m. North Adams
Local Democrats erupted in cheers at the Freight Yard Pub — and the waitresses did a little dance — as the news broke to call the election for Barack Obama.
The elation followed the victory speech of Elizabeth Warren, for whom local Democrats had been stumping for months.
"This is Massachusetts' gift to the nation," said Richard Dassatti of the April 4th Coalition, who was sitting with a tableful of Warren supporters to watch the election.
"Sometimes when you meet a candidate something hits you, something they say just hits you in the heart," said Democratic City Committee member Joyce Wrend, who added that Warren had energized her and the base.
For Dassatti, campaigning for Warren in these last days was a chance to do at home what he'd done elsewhere during Sen. John Kerry's failed presidential campaign eight years ago. "I got to go to my old neighborhood," he said, and knock on doors and reconnect with families he'd grown up with and talk about the candidate.
Wrend said it was that boots on the ground through calls and canvassing that aided turnout - 60 percent or more in the county alone - for Warren. State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi said she started knocking on doors in July for Warren.
"This is probably the most organized campaign in Western Massachusetts that I've ever seen in all my years," she said. "The many volunteers were so great and I'm so gratified at the results."
A crowd of about 60 people were at Images Cinema in Williamstown to follow the results of the election on MSNBC and CNN. Not surprisingly, some of the biggest applause were for Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren when she stepped to the microphone on the other side of the commonwealth to give her acceptance speech.
If there were Republicans in the group, they were keeping mum. Among the comments overheard in the crowd earlier in the evening: "Utah to Romney. There's a big story." ... And, when a pundit identified as a GOP strategist admitted at about 10:15 that there was no way Gov. Romney could win the presidential election, another expressed some of the divisiveness that's driven this campaign: "Well, at least he's honest. How about that, an honest Republican."
Warren swept the blue Berkshires by 60-70 percent in each community, with only two still awaiting results. Even Otis, which went with Brown the last time around, swung to Warren 53 percent to 47 percent. Brown did manage to pick up Monroe just over the North Berkshire border, eking out a 51 percent win. His tallies were far better in the central part of the state and the Boston suburbs.
Nah, we don't think the president had time to stop in Lenox. But somebody brought this cardboard cutout of him to the polls.
11:00 p.m. Lenox Rep. William "Smitty"Pignatelli was the clear winner in the 4th Berkshire District on Tuesday.
By late in the evening, with tallies still coming in from the smaller towns, the incumbent was leading challenger L. Scott Laugenour 11,018 - 2,417
10:42 p.m. Lenox & Florida The president may not have been in Lenox but his spirit sure was as voters went for the incumbent 3-1. Obama and Biden polled 2,318 to Romney's 677.
Warren also did well with 2,218 to Brown's 825.
Brown did slightly better in Florida but still lost. The Republican polled 164 votes to Warren's 220. The president had a significant margin, winning Florida 254 to Romney's 127.
Happy Democrats at the Freight Yard Pub in North Adams after the Senate race is called for Warren.
The major news organizations are calling the Senate race for Elizabeth Warren, who looks to sweep the Berkshires (no word yet from Otis). As of 9:55 p.m., Boston.com had Warren with 52 percent of the vote and Brown at 48 percent, with 39 percent reporting.
Warren won in Williamstown 3-1, gaining 2,921 votes to Brown's 789 votes. Lanesborough also went blue, handing Warren 1,078 votes to Brown's 499.
They didn't listen to Sheila Hebert in Williamstown and Lanesborough. She told them not to vote for her but they did anyway, giving her 1,630 votes for the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee. Except she's already on it.
Meanwhile, the other two candidates for the seat, Chris Dodig, who is currently serving, and Mark Schiek received 1,256 and 537, respectively. Read the full story here.
North Adams went big for Elizabeth Warren, handing the Harvard professor 4,094 votes to U.S. Sen. Scott Brown's 1,584.
The city also went for the president over the state's former governor, with Obama taking 4,427 to Romney's 1,144.
Above, Unique Payne, left, Takheena George and Yvonne Camacho with the Vote Mobile; left, a voter checks the city's ward map.
Don't let the low volume of political signs fool you. Parts of Berkshire County are turning out in force for this election.
A constant stream of people were flowing into St. Elizabeth's Parish Center, causing minor backups and a sidelining of Ward 3 voters until the registration table cleared.
City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau displayed an impressive mastery of city streets as she herded unsure voters to their proper polling wards. A quick question of address and the voter was directed to one of the four ward stations set up in the gym. The city clerk was "crazy" busy and didn't have time to speak.
Outside, a few people were holding Warren signs - not Obama ones - a sure sign where the focus is on this election. Someone did leave a Romney and Scott Brown sign with a flag to keep them company amidst the Warren supporters.
MCLA was transporting students and others from the college to vote in the "Vote Mobile." Volunteer driver Yvonne Camacho said the van has been making driving back and forth every 15 minutes - at least 50 students had taken advantage of the trip.
They included Takheena George and Unique Payne, both from the Boston area, who were excited to be voting in their first election. "I didn't realize all the ballot questions," said Payne.
Overheard at a polling station: "Nobody can tell me I can't vote" by a woman getting her ID ready #MAelection#don'tneedID
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, right, was campaigning for Elizabeth Warren in Pittsfield.
1:33 p.m.: PITTSFIELD
Congressman Richard Neal doesn't have to worry about his election this year so he spent Tuesday visiting polling places throughout the county in support of Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate.
After visiting a few polling spots in the city, U.S. Rep. Neal stopped by Del Gallos Restaurant where he predicted Democrats to win.
"I think Warren wins and I think [Barack] Obama wins a narrow race," he said before meeting voters in the restaurant. "I feel confident that my new Congressional District will vote for her."
Neal predicts President Obama will win in Ohio, Nevada and Iowa to secure victory.
The Berkshires is notoriously Democratic with Warren's competitor incumbent Sen. Scott Brown winning only one of the county's 32 towns. The election will likely be decided around Route 495.
After visiting polling location, Neal said the county has a "very effective ground game" with a large voter turnout and a lot of signs for Warren.
Neal started election day in Springfield where he voted early and then had a breakfast with organized labor officials. From there, he came to Pittsfield and will stop in Lenox before heading to Westfield, Holyoke and Longmeadow. He plans to watch the results in Springfield.
11:45 a.m.: Williamstown
All indications point to a high turnout in Williamstown.
At 10:45, parking spots were few and far between at Williamstown Elementary School, the town's only polling station, and there were lines to check in and check out for every precinct. Poll workers reported that it was the lightest it had been all morning.
Voter Kevin Combs (above right) was outside the school at 11 a.m. with a sign encouraging voters to vote "yes" on Public Question No. 4. He said when he arrived to vote at 7 a.m., there already were people queuing up when the polls opened.
A colorful mock voting booth at the Milne Library.
Question 4 is a non-binding resolution calling on a district's representatives and senator in Boston to back an amendment to the U.S. Constitution overturning the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case.
Specifically, the question, which is on the ballot in most Berkshire County towns and both cities, seeks an amendment " affirming that 1) corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of human beings, and 2) both Congress and the states may place limits on political contributions and political spending?
"I don't like the idea of someone having any more say than anyone else. And when the Koch brothers can go out and spend a million dollars a day on negative advertising, and I can't do anything about it, it makes me feel like ... the system's not working."
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The state is holding a special election to fill the seat vacated by John F. Kerry, who has been confirmed as U.S. secretary of state.
The state primary is Tuesday, April 30. The last day to register to vote or to change party affiliation for the primary is Wednesday, April 10. Enrolled voters may only vote in their party primary; unenrolled voters may select a primary to vote in without changing their status.
The special election is scheduled for Tuesday, June 25. The last day to register to vote in the election is Wednesday, June 5.
To register to vote, one must be at least age 18 by the date of the election, a U.S. citizen and a resident of the municipality in which you are voting.