Editorial: Vote, but not at the polls

Posted 4/2/20

The only way for Westport’s election (now scheduled for June) to work safely — or at all — will be for every possible participant to cast votes early.

Town officials opted wisely …

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Editorial: Vote, but not at the polls

Posted

The only way for Westport’s election (now scheduled for June) to work safely — or at all — will be for every possible participant to cast votes early.

Town officials opted wisely on Monday to delay the April vote for a couple of months in hopes that virus conditions improve.

But holding a normal election even then, the kind where everybody stands in line, gets up close and personal with poll workers to answer questions and sign papers, and touches voting booths and folders, could well be foolhardy in this age of coronavirus.

Adding to the worry in Westport (as in most towns) is the fact that volunteer poll workers tend to be older — the folks for whom the virus poses the greatest risk.

Instead, organizers have asked that residents sign up to vote early by mail (the state has changed rules to enable this). Instructions and deadlines have been posted on the town website, the process is said to be easy, and the town clerk (508-636-1147) is willing to help anyone who has difficulty with the process.

This is no mere request for convenience sake. It ought to be viewed as necessity. While the polls can deal with a few people, any turnout beyond that could immediately violate state gathering rules (if still in place) and shut things down.

If we can work, school and shop from home, surely we can manage to vote from home. It may well be the only way this election can succeed. 

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.