In less than one month, Massachusetts will choose a new senator, voters nationwide will elect a new president, and Needham residents will decide whether to allow retail shops to sell beer and wine.
The Nov. 6 state and presidential election is rapidly approaching, and that means the opportunities for Massachusetts residents to register to vote and apply to vote absentee are dwindling.
The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election is Wednesday, Oct. 17. Needham Town Clerk Tedi Eaton and her staff will be on hand for special voter registration hours that day, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The town clerk’s office is located on the first floor of Town Hall, toward the Chapel Street side.
For individuals who choose to mail in their voter registration affidavits, the forms must be postmarked by Oct. 17 but may be received up to five days following the deadline to be accepted, according to Eaton.
Residents may choose to vote absentee for several reasons but should make sure they are first registered to vote in Needham. (An exception is military servicemen and women who are currently overseas.) Residents can vote absentee if they may be away from town during normal polling hours, have a physical disability that prevents them from going to the polls or cannot vote at the polls because of religious beliefs.
Eaton said last week that her office had already distributed more than 900 absentee ballots.
The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is noon the day before the election, Monday, Nov. 5. Applications are available in the town clerk’s office at Needham Town Hall or online at needhamma.gov/townclerk (click on “Voter Registration and Information” at the bottom of the left column).
All absentee ballots must be received by the town clerk’s office by the time the polls close on Nov. 6 to be counted.
Polls will be open on Tuesday, Nov. 6 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in all 10 precincts. (For a list of polling locations, see Needham Patch’s 2012 Election Guide.)
More information about voting absentee can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.
In Needham, voters will see two ballots. The state election ballot includes races for U.S. senator and representative, state senator and representative and U.S. president as well as statewide questions. The special town election ballot features just one question: Should Needham allow the retail sale of alcohol? After the Secretary of State’s Office said there was no room on the state ballot for the local question, selectmen voted in September to hold a special election on the same day, Nov. 6, saying that it would be the best way to ensure the most Needham voters had a say on the matter.
Specimen ballots for both elections can be viewed as PDFs in the image gallery above. Note: Residents in precincts A-C and J-I will see a different state election ballot from residents in precincts D-H.
The town clerk recently sent out a guide to the double election to help residents navigate the process.
“We expect a large turnout, and if our voters are aware of the requirements and are prepared for their vote, everything should run smoothly,” Eaton said in the guide.
She encouraged voters to bring with them the red booklet from Secretary of State’s Office with a checklist on how they want to answer the three state ballot questions, saying it would allow voters to move more quickly through the process. (For a list of the questions, check out Needham Patch’s 2012 Election Guide.)
Eaton provided this quick guide for voters on Nov. 6:
1. Go to the check-in table. The inspector will ask for your name and address. You will receive a State Election ballot, which is two-sided.
2. Go to the next inspector at the check-in table to vote in the Special Town Election. Again, you will be asked for your name and address. You will receive a Special Town Election ballot, which is one-sided.
3. Go to the voting booth and mark your ballot (or ballots).
4. After voting, go to the check-out table. Give name and address for State Election. Go to the Special Town Election check-out and give name and address.
5. Place your ballot(s) in the black ballot box.
If a Resident’s Name Is Not on the Voting List
Residents who find on Election Day that their names are not on the voting list will be directed to the precinct warden.
If the warden finds the resident’s name on the inactive voting list and they have proof of residence in Needham (or have moved within the last six months), the person will be asked to sign the Affirmation of Current and Continuous Residence Roster and will be allowed to vote at the precinct where they were last registered as an active voter.
If the warden does not find the individual’s name on the inactive voting list and the town clerk’s office cannot locate the person’s voter registration, the person may be given a provisional ballot. This ballot will go in a folder in a sealed envelope and be returned to the town clerk’s office after the close of the elections for further review and final determination. The person will then be notified of the results.
Still have questions? Call the Needham town clerk’s office at 781-455-7500 ext. 216 or visit needhamma.gov/townclerk for more voter information.