Abington Town Elections have been postponed until Tuesday, June 23 in an effort to abide by state social distancing recommendations.
The town’s Board of Registrars announced the decision Thursday afternoon. An emergency law passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in March gave municipal boards of registrars the power to delay local elections. Abington’s Town Bylaws currently call for Town Elections to be held on the last Saturday of April.
The state’s COVID-19-related social distancing guidelines, which limit public gatherings and encourage people to remain at least six feet apart, among other measures, would have made it difficult to safely hold the town’s elections on April 25, said Town Clerk Leanne Adams. In addition the board was interested in protecting the town’s election day volunteers, who tend to be senior citizens.
Adams said June 23 was chosen after discussing available dates with management at Emerald Hall, which is once again serving as the town’s sole polling location. The hall did not have an available Saturday until July. Because statewide and national elections take place on a Tuesday, Adams and the Board felt that day of the week would work for the rescheduled town elections.
The Town Elections are the latest aspect of municipal government to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many town boards and committees have cancelled their recent and upcoming meetings, with essential meetings taking place via phone or teleconferencing app. Selectmen are planning to discuss whether to delay the town’s Annual Meeting, currently scheduled for mid-May. Town playgrounds and fields, which normally would be getting ready for the start of the busy spring sports seasons, are empty and quiet. Town Hall, the town library, and the senior center are all currently closed to the public, although many department staff continue to provide services either as part of an in-office skeleton crew, or by working from home.
Adams, for example, said she and Assistant Town Clerk Barbara Comoletti currently trade shifts at Town Hall in order to keep the office open to help residents. Anyone who needs assistance can contact Adams by emailing LMAdams@abingtonma.gov or by calling (781) 982-2112.
Abington News reached out to each of the five candidates for selectmen to get their thoughts on the decision to postpone the elections.
“I think it’s the right move,” said Alex Bezanson. “Hopefully by June 23 our lives will be somewhat back to normal. Most important thing right now is that everyone works together so we can get past this crisis.”
“I believe Abington would be best served by delaying the election to protect the well-being of all residents, and more particularly, our seniors and those of you with medical conditions that would make you more susceptible,” said Bill Cormier.
“I agree with the Registrars decision,” said Susan Ferreira Emery. “It is the only possible way forward and we will all relish forward movement through this difficult ordeal.”
“After reading the article, I agree with the town’s decision to postpone,” said Mike Kolodziej. “Hopefully by the June date things will be returning back to normal again. It also gives the public some extra time to get acquainted with the candidates.”
“Yes, public safety will always be our town’s top priority,” said Bob Manning. “I appreciate that the Board of Registrar’s held this meeting and I agree with their decision. I hope all our citizen’s stay safe and stay healthy as we are all in this together.”