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Massachusetts Clerks Say They're Prepared For Big Increase In Mail-In Voting

The mail-in voting application sent to Massachusetts voters.
Adam Frenier
The mail-in voting application sent to Massachusetts voters.

Some city clerks in western Massachusetts say they're ready to deal with an influx of mail-in voting applications and — eventually — ballots.

This month because of the pandemic, Governor Charlie Baker signed a law allowing all voters the opportunity to cast ballots by mail.

In Pittsfield, City Clerk Michelle Benjamin said she has two full-time staff members handling mail-in voting, and more ready to help, if needed.

"We may pull in some election workers who normally work at the polls to help us process and organize and keep everything flowing," Benjamin said.

Greenfield City Clerk Kathy Scott said some staffers could earn overtime pay for working extra hours.

"There may be some additional expenses, and I've spoken with the mayor and the administrative team, and they're aware of that, and we're going to work though that together," Scott said.

In recent days, the state has sent applications for mail-in ballots to registered voters. They're due back by August 26 for the September primary.

Early in-person voting takes place for the primary across Massachusetts from August 22–28. The polls will still be open on the actual day of the primary, September 1. 

Chicopee's city clerk, Keith Ratell, said the city will have plenty of hand sanitizer available at polling places, and will take steps to encourage social distancing. 

"Don't be afraid," Ratell said. "Everybody is opening up slowly now — the restaurants and the stores and everything. You can go without being overly concerned, as long as you have your mask and you're practicing social distancing."

Mail-in, early and in-person voting will all be available in Massachusetts for the general election, which is schedule for November 3. 

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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