Berkshire County Election 2018
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, just re-elected to his 13th term and his third representing the Berkshires, will become chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in the next Congress. The Democrat is currently the ranking member and, with the Democratic takeover the House, is in position take command of the powerful committee.
There were no surprises at the state level: Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito won another two-year term. Also re-elected were U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, Secretary of State William Galvin, Auditor Suzanne Bump, Attorney General Maura Healey and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg,
State Sen. Adam Hinds, state Reps. John Barrett III, Tricia Farley-Bouvier, William "Smitty" Pignatelli and Paul Mark were all returned to office unopposed.
Massachusetts voters also defeated Question 1 that would have instituted nurse-to-patient ratios calculated by the Massachusetts Nurses Association on hospitals and passed a Question 2 to create citizens commission to push a constitutional amendment to address the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that gave corporations the rights of citizens and allowed unlimited spending on political campaigns.
Voters also rejected the attempt to roll back protections for transgender citizens by voting yes on Question 3 to keep the anti-discrimination law in place.
Andrea Harrington is easily outpacing any write-in votes, winning North Adams with 2,710 votes to 1,046 write-ins and Adams by 1,689 to 1,120. She claimed victory by 10 p.m. when every town reporting had her ahead of any write-ins. Some smaller towns are still reporting but it is unlikely they will have enough write-in votes to exceed Harrington's 5,700 vote lead.
Maria Ziemba won the post of Berkshire register of deeds over Deborah Moran, outpolling her in North County's three largest communities by 5,000 votes.
Ziemba took Adams 2,042 to 1,002; North Adams 2,917 to 898; and Williamstown 2,521 to 372.
Write-in Campaign Issues
The write-in campaign by Paul Caccaviello has caused some problems with machines in Pittsfield. The voting machines separate ballots with write-ins from others. But the write-in box collecting those ballots is smaller and throughout the day the machines were jamming. Poll workers, joined by a police officer, had to routinely pack up the ballots from that box and secure them.
North Adams had been prepared for that by emptying the write-in ballot bin regularly and placing the ballots in locked bags at each of the five ward machines.
Another issue is with campaign literature being left behind. Caccaviello had handed out business cards as part of his campaign and clerks reported those were being left in the voting booths. Poll workers routinely do sweeps of the voting booths to remove any such material.
"Paul Caccaviello is handing out business-size cards with instructions on how to vote, and those have been found in the booths," said Lanesborough Town Clerk Ruth Knysh.
In Lanesborough, a voter also reported that a sample ballot hanging in one of the booths had been completely filled in — with all Republican candidates colored in and showing how to write Caccaviello in. Knysh said election workers do the sweeps "every so often" and that should have been removed.
But it was busy a day for election workers and Benjamin said she did have one reported incident of one of Caccaviello's business cards being left in the booth during a rush of voters. Overall, however, Benjamin said the amount of campaign literature being left behind was less than she expected.
In total there are 89,815 registered voters in Berkshire County, which is slightly higher than the last mid-term election in 2014.
That year, about 40,000 Berkshire voters went to the polls. In 2016, with a presidential election on the ballot, 66,508 voters made it to the polls. In recent history, between 50-55 percent of voters across the state of Massachusetts make it to the polls and that percentage jumps to greater than 70 percent in presidential years.
By 6 p.m. locally, a number of towns and city precincts had already eclipsed the 50 percent mark so this election appears to be trending closer to a presidential year. That follows a national trend of a high voter turnout for a mid-term election.
North County polling stations are reporting a good turnout today.
Election workers in Clarksburg were pulling for 100 percent — or at least making the 78 percent reached in the presidential election in 2016.
By 2:30, 421 people had cast ballots at the Senior Center and about 44 had voted early. Total turnout so far was 41 percent.
In North Adams, there were a dozen people in line when the polls opened at 7 a.m. at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center. By mid-afternoon, 24 percent of the city's 8,820 registered voters had cast ballots — not counting the pile of early voting ballots being checked off.
"I thought it would be a heavy vote because of what's on the ballot," said longtime poll worker Ron O'Brien, but added he was surprised not only by the turnout but the number of inactive voters showing up.
"I usually get maybe eight, or 10 in a presidential election year, but so far I've seen 40," he said.
Voter turnout maybe being driven by the handful of races on the ballot, the three ballot measures Massachusetts is deciding or the wave of competitive races across the nation sparked by the current administration.
One of those races is for Northern Berkshire County register of deeds, the first election for that office in a dozen years.
Candidate Deborah Moran, the first assistant register, had started the day at the polls in Adams, and then gone to Williamstown, which said was "hopping by quarter to 8." By 2 p.m., she and a supporter were standing in the rain and hoping for a break in the weather.
"The turnout is very good all over the place," she said. "You know I think we're going to have a good turnout, we'll just see what the results will be. Hopefully, it will be good."
Her opponent, Maria Ziemba, a clerk in the Registry, was in Cheshire standing under an umbrella in the rain to greet voters.
"I am feeling good I am feeling very positive," Ziemba said. "I am very confident."
Inside the Senior Center in Cheshire, by 3 p.m., 940 votes had been cast out of the town's 2,411 voters for a 40 percent turnout.
"It has been unbelievable," Cheshire Town Clerk Christine Emerson said.
Pittsfield's also reporting a high turnout. By late afternoon, for example, 1,550 ballots had been cast at Precincts 1A and 1B. A total of 2,677 ballots were cast in those precincts in 2016.
Lanesborough, which is also voting on a Mount Greylock School Committee race, was just short of 50 percent by late afternoon. Some 1,051 of the town's 2,263 registered voters had cast ballots by 4 p.m..
Statewide, the last mid-term election in 2014 had a 51 percent turnout compared to 2016's 75 percent in the presidential election year.
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