In-person early voting for Sept. 1 state primary starts Aug. 22;  5,000 vote-by-mail requests received so far

Photo by Tiffany Tertipes/Unsplash

August 16, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, voting by mail is available to all registered voters for the Sept. 1 state primary and also for the Nov. 3 state/presidential election.

By the end of last week, the Town Clerk's office had received close to 5,000 Vote by Mail requests in addition to handling about 700 absentee ballot requests that were already in the system.

Absentee ballots may be requested if a voter is going to be out of town for any election during the year. However, in July, a new state law was passed to allow all registered voters in Massachusetts to vote by mail in any 2020 election, with no excuse needed.

"We are continuing to get more vote-by-mail requests," Town Clerk Eileen McCracken told the Hingham Anchor.

The deadline for submitting vote-by-mail ballot requests is Aug. 26, but voters are encouraged to submit them as soon as possible. "This will allow time for citizens to mail their ballots to, or drop them off at, Town Hall so they will be received by Election Day. Because of the volume, we have been working hard to get the information into the system and to prepare and mail the envelopes containing the ballots," McCracken said.

Speciman ballots listing all the candidates are available at:  Remember, the state election is Nov. 3.

Many Hingham voters are focusing on the U.S. Senate race, in which Joseph Kennedy, III is challenging incumbent Edward J. Markey.

Hingham resident Melissa B. Smith is challenging incumbent James Michael Murphy, a Weymouth resident, for his state representative seat on the Democratic party primary ballot, which includes Hingham Precinct 2.

Incumbent State Rep. Joan Meschino -- a Hull resident -- is running unopposed on the Democratic party primary ballot in Hingham Precincts 1 and 3-6, with Stephen D. Gill, a Scituate resident, running unopposed for state representative on the Republican party primary ballot in those Hingham precincts.

Incumbent Sen. Patrick O'Connor, a Weymouth resident,  is running unopposed on the Republic party primary ballot in all six Hingham precincts. Cohasset resident Meg Wheeler is running unopposed on the Democratic party primary ballot for O'Connor's seat.

Carlos A.F. Da Silva, a Hingham resident, is challenging three other candidates for two Plymouth County Commissioner seats on the Democratic party primary ballot.

(See the link above for full details and the names of all candidates and the seats they are seeking.)

Last Friday, Aug. 14, The Town Clerk's staff was able to "catch up a bit, but there are still more [vote-by-mail ballot requests] to come. We want to ensure that those requesting these ballots receive them in time to get them back to us by the deadline," McCracken said. "Getting the ballots out has been a challenge, and we appreciate everyone’s patience."

State primary ballots must be returned to Hingham Town Hall by 8 p.m. Sept. 1.

To vote by mail, here's what to do:

* complete a vote-by-mail application;
* deliver your application to your local election office (Hingham Town Hall);
* vote when your ballot arrives;
* return your ballot.

Both vote-by-mail applications and completed ballots may be dropped in the mailbox at the end of the driveway at Town Hall.

NOTE: As required by the new law, a Vote by Mail application has been mailed to every person who was registered to vote by July 1 and who had not already requested an absentee ballot for the state primary or for all elections this year.

A second mailing will be sent out in September to all voters who have not already applied for a vote-by-mail ballot for the November election. The applications are pre-addressed to your local election official and no postage is necessary.

Anyone who registered to vote after July 1 was, or will be, sent a vote-by-mail application with their voter registration acknowledgement.

Voter registration for Hingham residents will be held in the Town Clerk's Office at Town Hall on Saturday, August 22, from 2 to 4 p.m. and again from 7 to 8 p.m.

Here's the schedule for early voting at Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central St., in the Central Meeting Room on the second floor:

* Saturday, Aug. 22 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
* Sunday, Aug. 23 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
* Monday, Aug. 24 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
* Tuesday, Aug. 25 – 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
* Wednesday, Aug. 26 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
* Thursday, Aug. 27 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
* Friday, Aug. 28 – 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

During these times, Town Hall will be open for early voting only. No other offices will be open. Town Hall remains closed for the time being to everyone except employees due to COVID-19.

The in-person state primary will be held Tues., Sept. 1,  from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The polling locations are as follows:

* High School, 17 Union St. – Precincts 1-4
* Middle School, 1103 Main St. – Precincts 5 and 6
* Linden Ponds, 201 Linden Ponds Way, Willard Square – Precinct 5A

"For both in-person early voting Aug. 22-28 and in-person voting for the Sept. 1 state primary, we will take all precautions with social distancing and keeping the areas clean and safe," McCracken said. "Everyone is asked to wear a mask when entering the voting areas."

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