WHITMAN — Expecting a 75-percent turnout for the Tuesday, Nov. 8 presidential election, Town Clerk DawnVarley has asked for, and received, Selectmen’s support for safety procedures she plans to institute at Town Hall on that date.
The measures have been used before in high-turnout elections and center on restricting parking and charitable solicitations.
Varley said she had already discussed the moves with Town Administrator Frank Lynam, Police Chief Scott Benton and Council on Aging Director Barbara Garvey.
The deadline for registering to vote in the presidential election is Wednesday, Oct. 19.
“I urged everyone to register to vote,” Varley said.
With final details concerning use of the Council on Aging bus still to be finalized, Town Hall employees and election workers will be required to park at the police station on Election Day to free up Town Hall parking for voters. Employees and election workers will be shuttled to Town Hall.
Parking along South Avenue from Day Street to the center of town will be limited to a half-hour on a temporary basis.
“We have 10,000 voters now,” Varley said. “The only thing that could cut [traffic] down is something new that’s going on — early voting.”
The 150-foot “no electioneering” rule around Town Hall will be enforced, including fundraising efforts by Dollars for Scholars and other groups.
“I usually let people inside for other elections — like the Mothers Club and things like that — but this time I’m not going to allow any solicitation,” she said. “I think it’s too much traffic.”
She stressed there will also likely be exit pollsters and poll watchers present, over neither of which she has any control.
Benton said he agreed with the parking restrictions and noted he will add a “floating” officer to the detail usually assigned to the polling place on election days.
Early voting is also in place for the first time this year and Varley has asked the Finance Committee for $2,000 to cover those costs, as she is asking some of her election workers to help with that process between Monday, Oct. 24 and Friday, Nov. 4. She said the state has not yet released the needed forms, envelopes or details of what the process will entail as yet.
Early voting will be conducted in the Town Hall Auditorium and Varlet plans to provide locked ballot boxes to keep ballots secure. While the law only requires early voting to be conducted during Town Hall hours, Varley plans to be open Fridays as well as from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29.
The state is providing incentive grants to encourage towns to provide extra early voting hours.
Municipalities with between 5,000 and 10,000 voters can get $500 to be open at least four weekend hours, with a $50 bonus for each additional two-hour increment they stay open during the weekend, according to Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin’s office.
Absentee voting will also be conducted as usual.
Varley also reminded residents that 16-year-olds may register to vote, even though they cannot cast a ballot until they turn 18.
“They’re trying to get the voter numbers up, but it just adds pressure to my office because we have to keep track of them for two years,” she said. “Who knows if they’re going to be in the same location in two years?”
Anyone with questions on their registration status, order absentee ballots or other election concerns may visit sec.state.ma.us.ele.
The town has received 34 applications for the assistant town administrator’s position, all based on an online posting before the position is advertised in print.
“We have a lot of interest in it,” said Selectmen Chairman Carl Kowalski. “We have a lot of qualified people that have showed some interest.”
The application deadline is Sept. 22.
Selectmen opted not to fill Selectman Lisa Green’s open seat based on the time constraints for a special election. The board members felt the could continue with the vacancy, created when Green resigned to apply for the position of assistant town administrator.