Southwick Board of Health weighs-in on election precautions


SOUTHWICK- The Board of Health discussed plans to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread for the upcoming special election for State Senate during its remote meeting April 23.

Candidates for the seat are John Cain, R-Southwick, and John C. Velis, D-Westfield.

The election was supposed to take place March 31 but was postponed to May 19 due to the pandemic. Southwick Health Director Tammy Spencer said that due to the nature of the voting machines, voting must take place indoors, which can pose a risk for further COVID-19 spread. 

“We are working on trying to get personal protective equipment (PPE) for our voting staff,” said Spencer. 

The voting staff may be different for this election, however, as many of those who typically work the polls during elections also fall under the higher risk categories for severe COVID-19 infection. Because of this, Spencer said that town employees may be used to staff the election instead. 


Board member Dr. Jerome Azia inquired during the meeting about whether the use of absentee ballots could be opened up so that more people may cast their votes without putting themselves or others at risk of coronavirus. Select Board Vice Chairman Doug Moglin said that opening up absentee ballots may be an action that must be taken by the state government rather than the Town of Southwick. 

As of Friday afternoon Southwick had 29 confirmed cases of COVID-19, although that number does not reflect those who are pending the results of their tests and those who have not yet tested. 

The special election is being held to fill the currently vacant seat of former State Sen. Donald F. Humason Jr. who is now the mayor of Westfield. Additional special elections are taking place across the state on May 19 for another state senate seat and two state House of Representatives seats.

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