Early birds can vote before breakfast

March 7, 2012 by  

With Seekonk voters set to hit the polls on April 2, they’ll be able to cast their ballot with their first cup of morning coffee. The town’s Board of Selectmen has voted to open polling stations at 7:00 a.m. now, instead of the traditional noon.

Brochure printing for the election, profiling board candidates, should include the newly revised polling station hours.

Gary Sagar, a board candidate, was responsible for raising the issue of advancing the opening to earlier in the day. Sagar pointed out that the town charter clearly states that:

“The polls shall be opened as early as 7 o’clock in the forenoon and shall not be closed before 8 o’clock in the evening.”

Seekonk’s legal advisors clarified the wording of the charter, advising that “as early as” means that the polls can actually at any time, with 7:00 a.m. being the earliest.

It was Sagar’s belief that voter turnout was reduced by opening the polls at noon.

“I, for many years used to vote early in the morning. I don’t understand why we’re not opening the polls at 7:00 a.m. like we used to,” said Selectman Bob McClintock.

Others voted against the time revision, such as Selectman Dave Parker who believed the extended hours would pose a hardship for workers at the pools and for Jan Parker, Seekonk’s town clerk. In a memo to Selectmen, Parker said that increasing the hours would do nothing but cost the town money. Voter turnout typically in Seekonk is 12 to 19 per cent no matter what hour the pools open.

The election will be held at Seekonk High School on April 2.