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Mayor Sarno Issues Veto On Springfield, Mass., Voter Turnout Ordinance

Central High School in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Elizabeth Roman
The Republican / masslive.com/photos
Central High School in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Domenic Sarno has vetoed an ordinance seeking to improve voter turnout in elections. The move comes as the mayor is running for another term.

Sarno said he agrees voter turnout in the city, which often hovers around 10 percent for municipal elections, is a problem.

But he said this measure left too many questions to be answered.

The ordinance calls for postcards reminding voters of upcoming elections, but Sarno said he's not sure that's the city's job.

"This is what candidates are supposed to do," Sarno said. "That's what we do. We have to get our word out through working hard and our own mailings, radio, TV, print advertising."

The mayor said he would also support forming a committee to look into improving turnout, and making young people aware of the voting process.

Meanwhile, the city councilor who sponsored the amendment said he's encouraging his colleagues to override Sarno's veto.

That vote could come next month.

Jesse Lederman said this is an issue that can't wait.

"If we're not going to start addressing it now, my question would be, at what point do we start addressing it?" Lederman said. "At what point will the mayor think that it is a problem? And at what point can we start to work together toward solving it?"

Sarno and Lederman both agree the ordinance is a starting point for the conversation on voter turnout. Both signaled a willingness for the council and mayor to work together on the issue.

There was also an issue with the version of the ordinance that was sent to Sarno.

Councilors this week struck a provision that would have also called for the city to make phone calls to voters, which likely would have meant the use of robocalls. But Lederman said the wrong version of the measure was sent to the mayor, which still included the phone call language.

He said the vote by the council still stands, but the mayor will have to re-veto the correct ordinance.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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