Select Board OKs RePrecincting; Changes To Four Precincts Will Impact Town Meeting Terms

Photo: Town Clerk Ellen Cushman presenting the town’s reprecincting draft before the Select Board

The Belmont Select Board approved a new town precinct map at a special meeting Monday, Oct. 25 resulting in half of the town’s residents with new boundaries for the next town election.

“The point of reprecincting is to balance our population amongst our eight precincts and we will balance the representation of our Town Meeting members,” said Town Clerk Ellen Cushman who heads the town’s Reprecincting Team.

The map and the board’s vote will now go to the state for final acceptance, said Cushman. The new map will go into effect on Dec. 31 and will be used in the 2022 annual Town Election in April.

The changes to four of the town’s eight precinct is in response to 10 percent increase in residents since the 2020 census, now at 27,295. Three precincts – precincts 8, 1 and 6 – will see significant changes while precinct 2 will see a minor addition of a few census blocks. After the rearrangement, each precinct will represent approximately 3,400 residents.

More information on reprecincting can be found here.

The changes will result in all Town Meeting Member positions in the altered precincts to be vacant with 36 open seats for candidates to contend over this coming April. The terms for each of the 36 successful candidates will be determined by a “first across the line” distribution: The first 12 will serve three-year terms, the second 12 serving two years on Town Meeting and the final 12 will have a one-year term.

After consulting with Town Counsel, Cushman said current Members will be considered a candidate for re-election, which will free them from collecting signatures on nomination papers.

The board’s action will not effect the student school districts or zoning areas, said Cushman.

“Wouldn’t it be nice that any redistricting throughout the country was done in such a wonderful, thoughtful and objective way which is not the case,” said Select Board member Mark Paolillo.

Town Clerk’s Quick Tips For Belmont’s Election Day, Tuesday, April 6

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Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman has written a list of “quick tips” for residents preparing to vote in the annual Town Election this Tuesday, April 6.

  • Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The polls are expected to be quite busy with in-person voters.
  • Wear your mask/face covering, maintain at least six feet of distance and be patient as you wait your turn to vote.
  • Election workers will be managing the lines to ensure adequate spacing of voters and workers within the polling place. Please dress appropriate for the weather; you may be asked to wait outside until it’s your turn.
  • Please note that some of the flow within the polling places has been changed to create one way traffic patterns. Follow signs and directions of election workers and Police officers and abide by the safety protocols.
  • Please be aware that April 6 is the second day for students of the Belmont elementary schools to return to school in person. Children will be excited to see their friends and arrival/departure patterns will still be new to them. Voters of Precincts 4, 7 and 8  at the Butler, Burbank and Winn Brook  are asked to consider avoiding the drop off and pick up times, 8:20 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 2:20 p.m. to 3 p.m.  allowing the students and their guardians space and time to perform the drop off or pick up. Please pay attention to the voter parking signs placed at each polling place and use them.

If you have any questions about your voting status, please feel  free to visit the State’s election resources page under the Voter Resources tab or contact the Belmont Town Clerk’s office at 617-993-2603  or voting@belmont-ma.gov

Two Weeks To Go: Voting In Person, Voting By Mail

Photo: You can stuff your ballot in the drop box outside Town Hall up to and including election day, Tuesday, April 6 at 8 p.m.

Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman wants eligible voters to know there are three ways to cast your ballot for the annual Town Election being held on Tuesday, April 6.

Vote by Mail Options

Absentee Voting or Early Vote by Mail
Voters who are unable to go to the polls to vote on Election Day, or are worried about the COVID impacts, may request that a ballot be mailed to them. Requests must be in writing containing the voter’s signature and are due to the Town Clerk by 5 p.m., March 31 (per a change made by the Legislature).

An Absentee ballot application was included in every household’s February Belmont Light Bill and just this week, the Massachusetts Legislature extended availability of Early Vote by Mail to municipal elections held this spring. The ballot is the same for Early Vote by Mail and Absentee Voting so please only file one request per voter so we can fulfill all requests in a timely way; if you’ve already filed an application to receive an Absentee ballot, do not file an Early Vote by Mail request. Applications can be dropped off or emailed to voting@belmont-ma.gov

The ballot will be mailed to the voter using the US Postal Service; The Town Clerk asks voters to file requests early to avoid delays. Voted ballots may be mailed back or deposited in our secure Town Clerk Drop Box at the bottom of the steps to Town Hall, parking lot level. All ballots must be received by 8 p.m., close of polls on Election Day, April 6.

Voting In Person

Registered voters may cast their ballots in person only on Election Day; polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the usual polling locations:

  • Precinct One: Belmont Memorial Library, Assembly Room, 336 Concord Ave.
  • Precinct Two: Belmont Town Hall, Select Board Room, 455 Concord Ave.
  • Precinct Three: Beech Street Center , 266 Beech St.
  • Precinct Four: Daniel Butler School Gym, 90 White St.
  • Precinct Five: Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.
  • Precinct Six: Belmont Fire Headquarters, 299 Trapelo Rd.
  • Precinct Seven: Burbank School Gym, 266 School St.
  • Precinct Eight: Winn Brook School Gym, 97 Waterhouse Rd., Enter From Cross Street

To see the specimen ballots or download an Absentee or vote by mail application, please visit the Town Clerk’s web page:

http://www.belmont-ma.gov/town-clerk

Belmont Holding Training Sessions On High School Ballot Question, Open Meeting Update

Photo: Questions on the ballot this November.

It will be the largest “ask” of voters in Belmont’s history when a debt exclusion question authorizing approximately $220 million to build a new Belmont High and Upper Middle schools will likely be presented on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Because of its historic nature of the question, between now and November, members of Belmont’s boards, committees, and commissions will likely be questions on basic information, data, opinions, and “fact sheets” related to the project from voters, ballot campaign question committees, the media, or just interested residents.

According to Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, answers related to the ballot question are governed by several Massachusetts General Laws.

To aid volunteers and employees in making choices related to this ballot question, Cushman has arranged a pair of training sessions by the State Office of Campaign & Political Finance (OCPF) personnel on Tuesday, July 17 at Chenery Middle School auditorium.

The session for boards, committees and commissions members will be held at 7 p.m. in the early evening, while town employees will attend a session at 3 p.m.

At the same training session, Belmont Town Counsel George Hall of the firm Anderson & Kreiger, will hold a question and answer session on his recent advisory to Belmont on the Open Meeting Law determination and Supreme Judicial Court decision. 

“It’s about getting everyone on the same page of the law,” said Cushman. 

Cushman anticipates the OCPF training to last approximately one hour, the Open Meeting Law portion to last about 45 minutes.

“Even if you don’t believe that you will be asked to comment or provide any information on this ballot question, I ask you to consider attending this scheduled one-hour training, for your knowledge and protection. You need to know the laws that apply to you as a member of our boards, committees, and commissions,” said Cushman

Between now and the training session, you may want to take a quick view of some brief educational videos provided by OCPF, each one about five minutes, to get you started thinking about the topic:

  • Click here for the ballot question committee tutorial.
  • Click here for the tutorial on equal access.
  • Click here for the tutorial on the use of public resources for political purposes.

If you have a specific question or clarification related to his advisory opinion, please email it to me in by Friday, July 12.  

“I’ll gather all of the submissions ahead of the session and forward them to George to help focus the presentation. Of course, questions from the floor will be welcomed as well,” said Cushman. 

Running for Office/Town Meeting: Belmont’s Nomination Process [VIDEO]

Photo: The steps to get you on the ballot.

Thinking about running for Belmont Town Meeting? Or maybe taking a step up and seeking town-wide office?

What eligible voters need first to understand is the nomination process to place your name on the ballot for the 2017 Town Election which takes place on Tuesday, April 4.

And the person to ask those and other questions is Belmont’s Town Clerk, Ellen Cushman. In this video, Cushman gives interested residents the basics of getting on the ballot.

More information can be found at the Town Clerk’s web page located on the town’s website.

Nearly 400 Cast Ballots on First Day of Early Voting in Belmont

Photo: Tom Dolan of Clifton Street casts the first early election ballot in Belmont.

Just before 8 a.m., Monday, Oct. 24, Greg Poulos and his daughter, Linnea, entered Belmont Town Hall on a mission: To vote.

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Greg and Linnea Poulos, first in line to vote.

The Poulos’, who live on Oak Avenue, joined 386 of their fellow residents Monday who took advantage of the new state law allowing for early voting for the first time in Massachusetts, according to Belmont’s Town Clerk Ellen Cushman who spoke before the Belmont Board of Selectmen Monday evening.

The Commonwealth now joins more than half of the states in the US who allow voters the chance to cast ballots ahead of election day, said Cushman, who said the Secretary of State’s office predicts about 15 percent of the electorate are expected to take advantage of the changes to voting early. In Belmont, that would be between 2,700 to 3,000 voters.

For residents, the main reason for voting early was expediency.

“I want my vote to count early,” said Greg. “I didn’t want to deal with lines, and I like the convenience of it.”

For Linnea, a student at UMass Amherst, she’ll be in western Massachusetts in 15 days. Usually, she would have picked up an absentee ballot from the Town Clerks office, “but this makes it much easier [to vote].”

“I need to get this over with. I need this to be done,” said Clifton Street’s Tom Dolan, who joined the Poulos’ and School Committee member Andrea Prestwich as the voting early birds.

As eight o’clock arrived, the group was ushered by a gaggle of poll workers through a three-step process that sent them on a tour of various room on the first floor of Town Hall: picking up a ballot, then being verified as a registered voter and finally casting their votes in a specialty constructed ballot box.

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“We always like to throw the party and have people come,” said Cushman, excited to see a steady stream of residents coming to vote.

Cushman said her office has been working to create a comprehensive plan since the law was passed in 2014. Her office has hired approximately 115 poll workers to speed the process. 

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Cushman said Belmont has extended hours on most weekdays and on Saturday. The town has also set aside parking in the Town Hall lot for early voters, and the building will be staffed by poll workers to make the process as conflict-free as possible.

Belmont is one of 34 communities award with a gold medal by the Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition for going far beyond the minimum requirements in terms of hours and availability.

The first voter to finish the process was Dolan who slipped his ballot in the box – after it was checked for a second time to see that it was empty. 

“Seamless, every easy,” Dolan said of the process. “Probably do this again next time.”

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