Combined election request denied

SOUTHWICK – The Board of Selectmen did not approve a request to combine two of the three elections set for this spring.
Town Clerk Michelle Hill asked the board yesterday for the primary election for U.S. senator and the annual town election – previously scheduled for April 14 – to be combined into one election April 30.
Selectmen Arthur Pinell and Russell Fox voted against the measure while Tracy Cesan voted in favor of the request.
Hill said combining the two would save money.
“I believe we would save anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000,” said Hill.
Gov. Deval Patrick is allowing towns with annual elections set for within 30 days of the April 30 state primary or the June 25 special election to combine elections. Hill said the state reimburses the town for at least a portion of a special election.
“I was at a conference last week and Auditor Suzanne Bump said she is pursuing cities and towns to get full reimbursement and indicated she would like towns to receive forward funds rather than seek reimbursement,” said Hill.
An election costs the town just over $7,000.
Hill made the request to not only save money, but said she thought more voters would turn out.
“I’d like to see more voters and we’re not going to see it in three elections,” said Hill.
The combined election would be a “two in one” election said Hill. Voters could choose to vote in just one or both elections and would receive two separate ballots.
“You would put both ballots in one machine,” she said.
Fox said he thought the combination of elections and two ballots would be too confusing not only for voters but for poll workers.
Fox said the election of a new senator, to replace former U.S. Senator John Kerry, who is now serving the country as Secretary of State, is important and would draw voters.
“There’s only two in the commonwealth and 100 in the country,” said Fox. “I think you’re going to get that heavy turnout for the primary.”
Pinell agreed with Fox, but said his main concern was that the combined election would push back the town business two weeks.
Cesan said she was in favor of the request in order to save money and bring out more voters
“I think some people would come out who might not vote in the annual election,” she said.
The measure was defeated 2-1.

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