ANDOVER, Mass. — Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday rebuffed the suggestion of postponing this fall's election due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We've had elections in the midst of world wars, we've had elections in the midst of a Civil War, we have had elections at many times in this country during terrible, awful circumstances," Baker said during an appearance at the Pfizer Pharmaceutical facility in this eastern Massachusetts town. "Elections need to happen, and there is no reason this one can't happen, when it's supposed to happen, in September and November."
The Massachusetts primary elections for November are scheduled for Sept. 1. November's biennial federal election includes one Senate race, all the congressional races, local elections throughout the commonwealth and, of course, the quadrennial presidential election.
Baker was asked to comment on a Thursday morning about a tweet from President Trump that continued a series of presidential claims that mail-in ballots can be rigged and suggested that the election itself might be better postponed -- presumably until after a COVID-19 vaccine or cure is developed.
"With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRADULENT Election in history," Trump wrote, displaying his penchant for random capitalization and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. "It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"
Baker directly addressed the mail-in balloting that was authorized for the spring's municipal elections and this summer was OK'd by the Legislature for September and November.
"The legislation that we signed and the legislature worked on earlier to make mail-in voting possible, especially for seniors and others who may have a particular predisposition toward illness to be able to vote from home without having to go to a polling place was the right thing to do," Baker said.
This month, the Secretary of State William Galvin mailed out requests for absentee ballots that make it even easier for residents to receive those ballots, which are controlled by town clerks and local boards of election.
On Monday, Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch used his platform during a meeting of the Select Board to encourage town residents to use the pre-printed applications they receive in the mail, which include a bar code that helps local officials process the request.
"Post card applications to vote by mail have gone out to every registered voter," Hoch said. "The thing to know if you get one of these is we'd love to have it back. This bar code makes the town clerk's life a lot easier than all the other application formats. This gets everything into the system. So if you still have this floating around, this is your best one to use.
"The other [applications] are all still valid, but you make us a couple of minutes happier if you use the pre-bar-coded one."
Williamstown residents can mail the completed postcard -- or other application -- to Town Hall or drop it off in the mail slot in the front door of the North Street facility.
Baker said the commonwealth already had one successful series of elections, many held in the spring when Massachusetts' positive test rate for the novel cornavirus was "north of 10 percent."
"We held legislative elections, hotly contested legislative elections, over the same period of time," Baker said Thursday. "I can tell you in Swampscott, which is a small town, a lot of people did this with absentee ballots. On election day, they completely changed how they handled polling. We reduced the number of polling places, went to much bigger spaces, spread everybody out. It worked fine.
"I think it's critically important that the election we have scheduled for the fall in September and November happen."
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Mount Greylock School Committee Votes Down Remote Learning Start to School Year
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Two months of input and advice from Mount Greylock’s working groups looking at the reopening of school were undone in four hours of discussion by the School Committee on Thursday night.
On a 6-1 vote, the committee directed interim superintendent Robert Putnam to submit to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education a radically different plan for the start of the year that moves more children into the school building more quickly than the administration was recommending.
Subject to approval by DESE and, not insignificantly, collective bargaining with the district’s unions, there will be no two-week period of fully remote learning as Putnam was proposing.
Putnam went into Thursday’s meeting with plans based on input from groups established in the spring and summer by him and his predecessor with the goal of getting the School Committee's blessing for the plan he has to submit to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Friday.
Putnam laid out a plan largely like the one he presented in a virtual town hall on Tuesday evening and told the School Committee he was looking for guidance.
In a split decision on Tuesday, the Planning Board voted to recommend town meeting take no action on either of the proposed zoning bylaw amendments related to the production of marijuana. click for more
On a 6-1 vote, the Mount Greylock School Committee Thursday directed Putnam to submit to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education a radically different plan for the start of the year that moves more children into the school building more quickly than the administration was recommending. click for more
Putnam said that, depending in part on the levels of COVID-19 infection in the area, the district will, at some point, offer families the option of keeping their child or children home for remote learning or sending the children to school for part of the week in a hybrid model.
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