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Voters head to polls today

Franklin County town clerks expect high turnout

Recorder/Paul Franz
Supporters stump for Elizabeth Warren on the corner of Bank Row and Main Street on Monday afternoon in Greenfield.

Recorder/Paul Franz Supporters stump for Elizabeth Warren on the corner of Bank Row and Main Street on Monday afternoon in Greenfield. Purchase photo reprints »

From Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren supporters staffing telephone banks to people baking pies and cookies to sell at the polls, Franklin County on Monday was a beehive of pre-election activity.

A razor-thin margin in the presidential race is expected to draw voters to the polls today across the region and the nation.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and with extremely close races for U.S. Senate and for president, four ballot questions and a single closely watched contest in the Second Franklin Representative District, town clerks are expecting a heavy turnout.

The Secretary of State’s Office is projecting an 80 percent turnout statewide. Franklin County has 49,772 registered voters — 30.5 percent Democratic, 9.4 percent Republicans, 59.4 percent independent and 0.4 percent Green-Rainbow.

Last-minute pre-election energy was in the air even Monday, with a lone campaigner holding a sign reading “Yes on Question 4” at Greenfield’s main intersection at 10 a.m. despite bone-chilling temperatures. At 4 p.m., the intersection was home to two Elizabeth Warren volunteers on each corner.

Volunteers for Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown were at their respective Greenfield Senate campaign offices at that hour, getting ready for another day of phone banking and coordinating door-to-door canvassing to try to squeeze out every possible vote.

In the Second Franklin District — where the only local contest has been stirring the interest of voters — Republican challenger Susannah Whipps Lee had begun her day holding signs and courting voters beginning at 6:45 a.m. in East Templeton, followed by similar events in Orange, Erving and Gill. “We’re going to continue right up until 7:59 on Tuesday” night,” said Lee.

Democratic incumbent candidate Denise Andrews attended an American Association of Retired Citizens lunch at the Athol American Legion Hall, campaigned in Templeton and prepared to visit all 14 polling places today.

Meanwhile, independent Richard Schober Jr. of Templeton was at work at a temporary job in Waltham — where he expects to be on Election Day.

Rena Finch of the Friends of Dickinson Memorial Library in Northfield was baking cranberry scones and an apple pie, while Lois Stearns was baking chocolate-chip cookies for an Election Day bake sale to be held at the entrance to the polls in Northfield Town Hall.

“We hope that there will be a good turnout,” said Finch.

At Greenfield Town Hall, Town Clerk Maureen Winseck said that despite numerous requests, there won’t be a bake sale because she’s concerned that the turnout will be so heavy that she didn’t want to add to the level of activity by having a bake sale operating.

Working at getting out that vote was Henry Woolsey of Petersham, a volunteer at the Elizabeth Warren for Senate campaign field office in Greenfield. In addition to three phone bank volunteers, about seven canvassers were also going door to door, he said.

“We’re trying to boost the turnout,” said Woolsey, a nature conservation worker who has been volunteering for Warren since January. “We’ll call people to make sure they can find time to get to the polls, and see if they know where to vote and to encourage them to call if they need a ride to the polls. Occasionally, we find people who are undecided. That’s hard for us who are so imbued with this election to remember that some people are less focused on it.”

Down the street, in the former Standard Appliance storefront sectioned off with a large fabric divider, two volunteers were getting ready to begin calling voters from a bank of 10 phones. They identified themselves only as Brian and Stephen, since formal approval had to come from Massachusetts GOP headquarters to talk to the press.

“We’re here to get out every last vote,” Stephen said. But he admitted, “Ninety-five percent of people are fed up with this election, and they feel this campaign has gone on too long. Massachusetts is not used to this. People are not used to this kind of contentiousness.”

The highlight for campaigners in Greenfield last week, said Stephen, was when Greenfield’s rag-shag parade came through and volunteers handed out nearly 1,000 pieces of “bipartisan” candy.

Volunteers working the Republican “Victory Phone Bank” also lucked out Sunday because there was no Boston Patriots game, giving them three extra hours of access to voters.

And Schober, a web designer and developer who’s been unemployed for nine months, said he’s been so focused on the temporary six-month job he’s been contracted for in the past week and a half that he’s hardly had time for campaigning — and just hopes that he can manage to vote, given the long commute.

“With no benefits and no days off, and with a family to support,” he said, “For the sake of my family, I have to be here as much as possible. I’m hoping to get back to Templeton in time to vote.”

Schober, who said the only campaigning he did this weekend was online networking, admitted, “I don’t expect to win. If it were a horse race, I would not bet on myself.” And yet, he added, campaigning was “great. I met a lot of people, and I’m far more confident about speaking in public; at least it doesn’t bother me anymore. I’ve got four kids,and it really made me think long and heard about what is important for the future, not just for me, but for them.”

You can reach Richie Davis at
rdavis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, Ext. 269

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