Election 2016: Issues with Early Voting, How Question 5 Appeared on Ballot

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Charlie Breitrose

I Voted Stickers

The Nov. 8 election drew a huge number of Watertown voters, but there were issues with the presidential election that also featured the Community Preservation Act ballot question.

Early voting proved popular with residents, and about 7,000 voters casted their ballots before election day.

After filling out their voters would fold their ballots and put them in an envelope and handed it back to the staff at the Town Clerk’s office. The envelopes went to the precinct where the voter lives, and were put through the machine. This was not as simple as it seemed however.

Town Clerk John Flynn said that some of the ballots would not go into the machines or even got stuck. This lead to ballot counting late into the evening, and the Watertown Election Commissioners did not finish on election night until 1 a.m.

The same problems were reported in other towns. The Town Council voted on Nov. 9 to have the Committee on State, Federal & Regional Government discuss the issues that came up during early voting.

Question 5

Many voters were confused by how the Watertown’s local ballot question, the Community Preservation Act, appeared on the ballot on Nov. 8.

While the four statewide ballot questions had an extensive explanation about the question, Question 5 just asked if voters wanted the town to adopt the Community Preservation Act.

Flynn said what appears on the ballot is approved by the Secretary of State’s office. He sent in a longer summary of the CPA, but what was approved is what was shown on the ballot. Boston also voted on the CPA on Nov. 8, and the question appeared in a similar on ballots in the Hub.

Other residents wondered why there was no info in the voter guide send out by the state.  A Watertown election commissioner who did not want to be named said that state does not put information about local ballot measures in the voter guide.

The commissioner contacted the Elections Division in the Secretary of State’s office and was told if it been a municipal election, as opposed to a state election, the town would have been required to send out information about the ballot measure. The town could have sent out information independently, but it is not required to do so.

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