Early vote is heavy as city sets up for Tuesday; alert on for ballot security

A drop-box for mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election has been put in place outside of the Fields Corner BPL branch at the corner of Dorchester Avenue and Park Street. Bill Forry photo

With just a few days to go before the state’s general and presidential election on Nov. 3, early voting continues to draw large numbers of ballots to select polling stations as city officials prep for in-person voting on Tuesday amid increased safety measures.

As of Monday this week, 43,910 votes had been cast citywide in early voting, according to the city’s Election Department.

Early voting will continue in staggered fashion through the end of the week. City Hall will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.

The early voting sites in Dorchester and Mattapan – Florian Hall, 55 Hallet St., and the Mattapan Teen Center at 10 Hazelton St. –will finish up the balloting from noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday.

“Every location will be prepared with spacing guidelines, cleaning protocols, and PPE,” Mayor Walsh said in a press conference last week. “The more people that early vote, the more people that do mail-in ballots, the fewer people we’ll have in-person voting on Election Day, which will cut down the lines that will be at the voting locations.”

Dropbox sites have been made available at 17 locations across the city — including the Grove Hall and Fields Corner library branches—for the 130,000 Bostonians who submitted applications for mail-in ballots, 84 percent of which have been fulfilled.

If you have received a mail-in ballot, but would prefer to vote in person on Tuesday, be sure to bring the mail-in ballot to your polling location on Election Day. Poll workers will take the it from you, mark it “spoiled,” and give you an in-person ballot to complete instead.

The marquee match-up is, of course, the presidential contest, featuring incumbent President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence against former Vice President Joe Biden and US Sen. Kamala Harris. Other offices on the ballot include: US Senate, Congress, state offices, and county seats, such as Suffolk County Register of Probate.

Massachusetts voters will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on two ballot measures in Massachusetts. Question 1, if passed, would change the state’s “Right-to-Repair” law. Question 2 would create a ranked-choice voting system in Massachusetts.

Security measures elevated

On Monday, a 39-year-old Boston resident was arrested in connection with a Sunday morning fire that was set in a ballot drop box outside the main branch of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. The incident prompted Secretary of State William Galvin, the commonwealth’s elections overseer, to direct local officials to step up their security and monitoring of the drop boxes set up to receive early-voting ballots. Galvin also asked the FBI to investigate the incident.

Boston Police identified Worldy Armand as the suspect. Shortly before 11 p.m. on Sunday, officers assigned to a drug control unit spotted Armand, who matched the suspect’s description, while they were patrolling the Copley Square area, according to the BPD.

Of the 122 ballots that were removed from the box after the fire, 87 were still legible enough to be processed, according to Galvin’s office.
The city’s election department asked that anyone who dropped their ballot off outside the library between 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday to call 617-635-2211 to check the status of their ballot, which can also be done at trackmyballotma.com.

City election officials will mail new ballots to the 35 affected voters, Galvin said, and original ballots “will be hand-counted to the extent possible” for affected voters who do not submit new ballots.

A directive Galvin issued to local election officials Sunday encouraged them to monitor early-voting drop boxes with video surveillance, close or relocate the boxes in the late evening to prevent overnight tampering, relocate boxes to entryways or lobbies of city or town halls, and increase the frequency of ballot collections, with a “clear chain of custody” for ballots retrieved from the boxes.

Polling locations

Voters who plan to go to the polls in person on Tuesday should double-check their precinct locations, as 20 were changed in September. They can be found at boston.gov or go to sec.state.ma.us/wheredoivotema.

In Dorchester, poll locations that were changed in September included: Ward 1, precinct 15 and Ward 13, precinct 3, where voters are to report to 270 Mt. Vernon St.; Ward 13, precincts 1-2, where the new location is the Winthrop Elementary School, 35 Brookford St.; Ward 13, precincts 7-8, where voters should go to St. John Paul II Academy, 790 Columbia Rd.; and Ward 17, precincts 1,3, where voters need to go to Codman Sq. Tech Center, 450 Washington St.

State House News Service reports were used in this article.