WHITMAN — The Board of Selectmen voted on Tuesday, Jan. 28 to approve electioneering guidelines recommended by Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin during a recent election worker training session. The guidelines are based on ones recently approved by West Bridgewater.
Since the town is participating in early voting for the March 3 Super Tuesday Primary, Town Clerk Dawn Varley, asked for the guidelines to be considered. Early voting for the Super Tuesday primary is from Feb. 23 to 28 during hours when the Town Clerk’s office is open — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
In November, early voting will take place over 11 days during hours the Clerk’s office is open.
Absentee ballots are available now — they differ in that one must provide a signed affidavit that they are ill, absent from town or has a religious conflict with Election Day, while no excuse is required to participate in early voting.
“Voters who early vote should have the same courtesy that the voters do on a regular [election] day,” she said. “It would only be just to make sure people aren’t harassing them as they come in to early vote. It’s basically what is already in place for Election Day.”
Police details would not be necessary outside to enforce the no-electioneering buffer 150-feet from the polling place, Varley said.
“Just to be clear, people are aware that, on election day, they don’t approach people within the perimeter of the Town Hall,” said Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski. “We just observe those lines every day, now, during the early voting.”
She said Galvin’s office related incidents in other states where people wore pins of past candidates not on the ballot, which are permitted, but some included badges for people who were on the ballot.
“Election workers had to go through and say, ‘Take that one off, take that one off, it’s crazy,” Varley said.
Another example the municipal clerks were told about was of a woman wearing a campaign shirt, who was asked politely to go to the ladies’ room and reverse it. Instead she took it off in a public area and voted wearing only her bra.
“People are out there and they’re challenging the clerks,” she said. “They’re trying to see what they [can get away with]. I just want to protect my poll workers and my election workers and the voters.”