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Mayoral candidate supporters flash signs at cars outside of Joseph Metcalf School, a polling site for the 2021 preliminary election in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Nirvani Williams / NEPM

Michael Sullivan will face Joshua Garcia in November's general election for mayor in Holyoke, Massachusetts. They were the top two finishers in Tuesday’s preliminary.

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM / CDC

Calling the spike "alarming and scary," Mayor Domenic Sarno said there were more then 250 new cases of COVID-19 in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Tuesday and Wednesday combined.

The polling place at St. Elizabeth Parish Center in North Adams, Massachusetts, on Sept. 19, 2017.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

You might be thinking about your vacation plans or backyard barbecues, but there are several mayoral races heating up across western Massachusetts. 

Our "Monday Conversation" is with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with the 5-time state senator from Pittsfield on his background and why he decided to run for Massachusetts governor after taking time away from politics. Downing will also breakdown his recently released child care and infrastructure plans.

Pittsfield native Ben Downing is one of a handful of candidates who has announced their run for Massachusetts governor. Ben served five terms as state senator representing what would become the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden district, before deciding not to run for re-election in 2016 and joining a renewable energy company. 

This is the full conversation with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder from the Monday's show. Ben Downing explains why he's getting back into politics after time away and his plans for housing, child care, transportation and more if elected governor.

Ballot Campaign Taking Shape In Massachusetts For Voter ID Proposal

Jul 6, 2021
An example of a Massachusetts Driver's license.
Mass DOT / MassLive / masslive.com

Massachusetts voters would be required to present identification to prove their identity at polling places, under an initiative petition that the head of the state Republican Party hopes to place on the 2022 statewide ballot.

Diehl Joins Massachusetts Guv’s Race, Creating Potential For Baker Primary

Jul 6, 2021
Geoff Diehl in a file photo from 2017.
State House News Service

The first Republican candidate for governor in 2022 is former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, who announced his plans at a festival in western Massachusetts on Saturday by questioning Gov. Charlie Baker's approach to pandemic management and pledging to counter "the impact of over-taxation and reckless spending by government."

Ranked choice voting is a voting process that allows registered citizens to rank candidates by their choice. Last year, this initiative was defeated on the Massachusetts state level, however in Amherst, more than three quarters of its residents voted in favor. Now, Amherst is pushing to approve ranked choice voting in time for November elections. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will explore the pros and cons of ranked choice voting. 

Tanya Leise, a professor of mathematics at Amherst College and former chair of the Ranked Choice Voting Committee, explains in detail what ranked choice voting is and how the town could implement it.

Anthony Amore, former 2018 Secretary of State candidate, discusses the pitfalls ranked choice voting presents.

Amherst City Councilor-at-large Mandi Jo Hanneke will talk about the impending deadline for the town to adopt ranked choice voting for elections this fall.

Facing a veto on their sweeping plan to overhaul state election laws, Pennsylvania Republicans have set in motion a plan to circumvent the Democratic governor and create a mandatory voter ID requirement.

They aim to do it via an amendment to the state constitution — a process that requires approval from the Legislature and subsequent victory on a statewide ballot measure.

Critics say it's a technique that Republicans appear increasingly willing to use as they clash with Gov. Tom Wolf over highly politicized issues such as voting and the pandemic.

States across the country are proposing bills and passing laws that will make it harder to vote. Vermont, on the other hand, has taken an extraordinary step: over the veto of Governor Phil Scott, they have now passed two bills that will allow legal non-citizens of two Vermont towns to vote in local elections. Representative Hal Colston of Winooski is one of the sponsors of the bill that passed, and he discusses whether this would set a precedent for the rest of the state. 

In Connecticut, the voting rights of 4,000 former incarcerated citizens were restored when Governor Ned Lamont signed the state’s new two-year budget into law this week.

Denise Merrill Not Running For Another Term As CT Secretary Of The State

Jun 24, 2021

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced Wednesday she will not seek reelection to a fourth term, the first concrete move toward shaping a 2022 election cycle expected to be dominated by the reelection bids of Gov. Ned Lamont and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Shrinking Republican Party In Massachusetts Struggles For Direction

Jun 10, 2021
Jim Lyons (center), who now chairs the Massachusetts Republican Party, confers with fellow delegates including Rep. Marc Lombardo (left) at the party's 2018 convention.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

The Massachusetts Republican Party on Wednesday night united behind resolutions supporting Israel and opposing universal mail-in voting in Massachusetts. But the gathering did not seem to calm the tensions that have been boiling between conservatives and party members more loyal to Gov. Charlie Baker.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe / Pool / State House News Service

In most cases, people fully vaccinated for COVID-19 probably don't have to wear a mask, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, at least for now, mask mandates remain in place in Massachusetts.

The Holyoke, Massachusetts, City Council gathers on Zoom on April 12, 2021, to choose the next acting mayor.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

A new acting mayor will take the oath of office in Holyoke, Massachusetts, on Tuesday after a vote by the City Council Monday night.

Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill wants lawmakers to support constitutional amendments that would allow for early voting and no-excuse absentee ballots.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse speaks at a press conference in the final days of his 2020 Democratic primary campaign for Congress.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com

Alex Morse, who first became mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, at the age of 22 in 2012, announced Tuesday he's stepping aside when his term expires in January, 2022.

Pleading 'No Mal Intent' In Morse Controversy, Bickford Reelected MassDems Leader

Nov 12, 2020
The chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party addressed party leaders before he was reelected to a new four-year term.
Screen shot

Democratic Party Chairman Gus Bickford won a second four-year term on Thursday night to lead the state party into the next gubernatorial election cycle when it hopes to reclaim the corner office.

Connecticut’s Secretary of the State plans to ask lawmakers to allow any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot in future elections. But the president of Connecticut’s Town Clerks Association says the state lacks the resources for widespread mail voting.

Connecticut officials anticipate the largest number of voters in state history to cast ballots in next Tuesday’s election. The state now has 2.3 million registered voters — 700,000 more than four years ago.

Ty is a 22-year-old who grew up in Manchester and, like a lot of New Hampshire voters, got involved in politics at a young age. They phone-banked and canvassed for Bernie Sanders’ campaign as a high school student in 2016; they also cast their first vote the same year. And as the 2020 general election approaches, Ty’s eager to head back to the polls.

An informational graphic used by Cambridge, Massachusetts, which has used ranked-choice voting in some local elections for decades.
City of Cambridge / via WBUR

Massachusetts voters this fall are being asked whether they want to see ranked-choice voting on ballots in future elections.

The Massachusetts general election ballot in 2020 includes a question about establishing ranked-choice voting.
Carrie Healy / NEPM

Massachusetts voters this election will get to decide whether to give their future ballots a major overhaul.

Survey: Majority of Conn. Voters Plan to Go to Polls

Oct 21, 2020

A new survey from the Public Policy Polling has found that less than half of Connecticut voters are concerned that absentee ballots are not as secure as in-person voting, but more than 80% prefer to visit their polling precincts. 

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse (left), and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield exchange a greeting before a 2020 debate.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

The Democratic candidates in the Massachusetts 1st Congressional District combined to spend $7.8 million on the September primary race.

Massachusetts voters are evenly split on a ballot question that would fundamentally change how they select candidates for state and federal office.

Four in 10 likely voters in Massachusetts plan to cast ballots by mail this November, according to a new WBUR poll (topline, crosstabs).

There’s a primary next week. And though absentee balloting has been the talk, the question now is whether the power outages caused by Tropical Storm Isaias will affect in-person voting.

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

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

John Velis of Westfield in a file photo.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Democrats claimed victory in two Massachusetts special elections Tuesday, seizing state Senate seats that had long been held by Republicans in races that party chair Gus Bickford said reflected a rejection of President Donald Trump's politics.