Seekonk Decides Not to Combine State/Local Elections
Seekonk selectmen reject a proposal for one election in April, which the town clerk says would save money.
Seekonk voters will go to the polls twice in April as originally planned. Selectmen rejected a proposal Wednesday from town clerk Jan Parker to move the local April 1 election to April 30, when voters statewide will participate in the primary for the special U.S. Senate election.
The proposed combination would have saved the town $4,000, Parker said, because the cost of poll workers and police details would be reimbursed.
Gov. Deval Patrick approved an exemption for municipal charters last week that allowed towns with elections scheduled to take place within 30 days of the state primary to combine the voting days and be reimbursed for some of the costs. However, selectmen said the cons outweighed the pros.
Parker told selectmen holding one election in April would affect the town in terms of voter turnout and partisan politics. The board also heard from others about the proposal.
"I'm always thinking that saving money, as a Republican, is a good thing," said Peter Hoogerzeil, vice chair of the Seekonk Republican Town Committee. "Someone who's leaning Democrat could say, 'Hey such and such is a Republican, you're not going want to vote for that person [in the town election]. I don't think the town would want that for their elections."
Seekonk has held non-partisan town elections and includes a provision in its charter to keep them that way.
Christine Allen, candidate for the water commission, said many people who are not registered Republican or Democrat may chose not to vote entirely because they don't vote in primary elections.
"It's going to disenfranchise those people who do not vote in primary elections," she said. "I am unenrolled, have been unenrolled my entire life. I've never been a Democrat or Republican. What appealed to me most in the town of Seekonk was that the town elections are not partisan. By combining this primary where you've got the Democrats and Republicans, you're going to be clouding their issue of a nonpartisan election."