Annual Town Election May 19 – Only one contested race

by | May 12, 2020

The 2020 Town of Auburn annual election will be different from any other in the town’s history due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, some things remain the same; namely very few contested races (just one, in fact), not enough Town Meeting Member candidates, and Wayne Page seeking a selectman’s seat.

The polls at Auburn High will be open on Tuesday, May 19, from 8am to 8pm for in-person voting. Town Clerk Debra Gremo said last week that her staff had reviewed the traffic flow and procedures at the high school polling area to maximize distancing and safety for voters and poll workers.

For the first time, any resident can request a ballot and vote early and/or by mail. Ballots can also be hand-delivered to the town hall drop box.

“This year only for the town election due to the COVID-19 you may avoid the polls and vote early by mail. To vote early by mail you will need to fill out an Early Voting application to be able to receive a ballot by mail. Applications can be mailed, or hand-delivered, by putting in the drop box in the rear of the Town Hall building and may also be submitted electronically by fax or email, as long as your signature is visible” said Gremo.

Voters need to complete and return a mail-in ballot request form, which can be obtained by mail either by calling the Town Clerk at (508) 832-7701; e-mail to  townclerkemail@town.auburn.ma.us, or download from the Town Clerk website . The request form can be returned by mail or placed in the dropbox at the rear entrance to Town Hall, 104 Central St., Auburn. Voters need to allow time to received the official ballot by mail (this is typically taking just one business day), so physically returning the request form to Town Hall is probably the safest choice with the election just a week away.

On the ballot, voters will find races for Auburn Housing Authority, Library Trustees, Town Moderator, School Committee, Select Board, Southern Worcester Country Regional Vocational School Committee (Bay Path), Town Meeting Delegates and one ballot question.

There are three separate Auburn Housing Authority races, but each is uncontested; the candidates are filling terms of various lengths they are not running against each other.

Voters are asked to vote for eight delegates, each to a 3 year term as a Town Meeting member.  Every precinct except Precinct 2 needs additional Town meeting members, and even Precinct 2 is uncontested. Precinct 1 has six candidates; Precinct 2 has eight candidates; Precinct 3 has six candidates; Precinct 4 has five candidates; and Precinct 5 has just four candidates.

Write-in candidates are encouraged; voters are just asked to remember that the write-in candidate must reside in the Precinct in which you are voting. For example, a voter living in Precinct 1 cannot write in a candidate for Town Meeting for Precinct 4 (well, you could, but the vote would not be valid). Historically, in races where there are not enough candidates for Town Meeting, just a handful of [write-in] votes has been enough to secure a seat. So anyone who is interested, but too late to appear on the ballot, now is the time to launch that social media write-in campaign.

There are two seats up for election on the Select Board. The candidates are incumbent Dan Carpenter, perennial candidate Wayne Page, and Chief of Police, Andrew Sluckis, Jr. Auburn Mass Daily hopes to run profiles of each in the coming days.

The one ballot question pertains to invoking a section of the Massachusetts General Laws providing for Town Clerk tenure. Per the regulation, “a town clerk under age seventy duly elected or appointed…who has served therein continuously not less than five years, shall, notwithstanding any contrary provision of general or special laws, hold office during good behavior until he has attained age seventy in any city or town in which this section is accepted…”.  Historically, the town clerk position is rarely contested.