Nov 8, 2022 - Politics

Massachusetts poll workers prepared for any disruptions

Illustration of a row of voting booths casting long shadows, the side of the booth reads "VOTE" with a checkmark as the V.

Illustration: Victoria Ellis/Axios

Local officials aren't expecting much trouble at the polls today, but potential security threats are still on their minds.

Driving the news: Secretary of State William Galvin told reporters yesterday he's expecting election observers from both parties, and that Republicans appear to have a slightly more organized effort planned.

  • Galvin's office told Axios the state director of elections has been in touch with state Republican Party leaders and has reviewed materials provided to GOP observers to make sure they comply with the law.

Common Cause Massachusetts is concerned about "potential rogue poll workers," executive director Geoff Foster told Axios.

  • Foster said some people may volunteer to work the polls for a municipality with their own agenda to "find fraud," support election denial or to challenge voters' rights.
  • Common Cause will operate a hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE to answer voter questions or report voter intimidation.
  • Foster said the group will post 150 volunteer poll monitors across Massachusetts today.

Zoom out: Security threats aren't as much of an issue in New England as in other parts of the country, New England Association of City and Town Clerks president Dottie Powers told Axios, adding that safety for voters and poll workers is a priority.

  • "We're all being positive and hoping that people are also being respectful and not going to disrupt the process for voters," said Powers, who is the town clerk for Westwood.
  • Powers said there will be police officers stationed at every polling place in case of any disruptions poll workers can’t handle.

How it works: The election process in Westwood has been very transparent, as it is in other Massachusetts cities and towns, Powers said,

  • Mail-in ballots are tallied during a posted meeting that's open to the public.
  • When polls open, clerks will demonstrate to observers that each voting machine has registered no votes until the first voters fill out ballots.

Yes, but: Powers said despite the transparency, clerks have been burdened with frequent public records requests from groups seeking to investigate the 2020 election results.


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