Greenfield’s general election by the numbers

  • Staff graphic/Melina Bourdeau—

  • STAFF GRAPHIC/MELINA BOURDEAU

  • City of Greenfield election 2019 Staff Illustration/Andy Castillo

Staff Writer
Published: 11/7/2019 9:52:04 PM

GREENFIELD — While the Greenfield general election results are still unofficial, pending the outcome of two provisional ballots, data including voter turnout is now available.

As of press time Tuesday, the results of Precinct 8 were not included in School Committee or City Council At-Large results due to a machine malfunction that required the ballots to be hand-counted. The updated unofficial results are included in this story.

A provisional ballot happens when a voter’s registration status is in question.

On Tuesday, 5,557 votes were cast, which is about a 47 percent turnout for the general election. The city has a total of 11,880 registered voters.

The Nov. 7, 2017 biennial election had 27 percent of the voters turnout, and the Nov. 3, 2015 biennial election had 40.6 percent, according to the city clerk’s office.

City Clerk Kathy Scott said she was expecting the turnout to be higher.

“I was expecting it to be in the 50 percent range,” she said.

This year was Scott’s first regular election as clerk, as well as her staff’s first years in their respective positions.

Voter percentage breakdown

Mayor-elect Roxann Wedegartner won the race with 2,068 votes or 37.2 percent of the vote, with Sheila Gilmour in second with 1,882 votes or 33.8 percent and third, write-in candidate Brickett Allis, who received 1,539 write-ins or 27.6 percent. There were also 65 blanks in the mayoral category and three additional write-ins on the ballot.

For the two City Council At-Large positions, the two winners were Christine Forgey, the city’s first mayor, and Philip Elmer with 2,891 votes or 26 percent, and 2,268 votes or 20 percent, respectively. James Henry and Michael Terounzo received 1,392 votes or 12.5 percent and 1,463 or 13 percent. There were 3,068 blanks in the City Council At-Large category or 27.6 percent.

For the remaining City Council seats in Precincts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9, Precinct 2, where Daniel Guin ran unopposed, had the largest number of ballots with that entry left blank. Guin received 505 votes and there were 287 blanks.

For the three four-year term School Committee seats, Amy Proietti, Jean Walsh Wall and write-in incumbent Susan Eckstrom were elected. Proietti received 3,245 votes or 19 percent, Walsh Wall received 2,597 votes or 15.5 percent and Eckstrom received 293 write-ins or 1.7 percent.

Voters were able to vote for up to three candidates for School Committee. Of the 16,671 votes available on the 5,557 ballots filed in the election, there were 10,456 blanks on the School Committee four-year seat section, which is 62.7 percent.

The closest race of the 2019 general election was between Kia Burton-King and Glenn Johnson, who were running for a two-year seat on the School Committee.

Johnson won with 2,006 votes or 36.1 percent, and Burton-King received 1,974 or 35.5 percent of the votes. There were 1,153 blanks or 27.9 percent.

On the first ballot question, an allocation of $19.5 million to build a new library, the question passed. There were 3,294 votes in favor or 59 percent, and 2,108 votes opposed or 37 percent of voters. There were 155 blanks on the ballot question portion, which is about 2 percent.

On the second ballot question, which made Greenfield a safe city, the question passed with 3,025 votes in favor or about 54 percent, and 2,391 opposing votes or about 43 percent. There were 141 blanks on the second ballot question or 2 percent.

Voting malfunction in Precinct 8

Scott said results from the election took longer to process due to a malfunctioning data stick that is plugged into the voting machines.

“We have to test the machines before the election and when we did, it went smoothly,” Scott said. “We had no issues.”

The machine couldn’t read the data in the program stick, she said. On Tuesday morning when the machine was starting up, it gave a message that it wasn’t functioning properly and when a spare machine was used, it had the same message.

“The data stick was the problem,” Scott said. ” It was not being read properly by the machine.”

A technician came to the polls twice during the day on Tuesday and was unable to fix the problem, according to Scott, and as a result, poll workers had to hand-count all of the ballots for the precinct.

Scott said that while the report from the technician hasn’t been returned, a potential solution may be getting two sets of data sticks.

Otherwise throughout the day, there were no major issues, Scott said, noting she had sufficient staffing for the polls.

Each precinct has four poll workers, for a total of 36 poll workers during regular elections, and an additional member of the public at the information table. Four municipal employees from the clerk’s office were present, including Scott.

Observers

By law, anyone is allowed to observe at any election, according to Scott.

“You will usually see write-in candidates have observers,” Scott said. “In Sept. 3, 2018 election, there were write-ins for a Senate seat and there were observers from one of the campaigns at the polls in Greenfield. We were prepared for it.”

Because observers do not have to notify the clerk’s office, Scott said the fact her office was notified was a courtesy.

“We worked with the candidate, read the law. We told them what we would do and marked on the floor where they could be,” Scott said. “Candidates are not allowed to be observers.”

She said she was told people were uncomfortable with observers.

“We understand having your name and address read loudly enough for an observer to hear can be uncomfortable. However, the law requires when someone checks in and out that the poll worker is supposed to clearly repeat their name and address. We have to say it loud enough that the observer can hear it,” Scott said. “I’ve told a couple people so far, ‘The fact that you vote is not anonymous, but how you vote is anonymous. No one knows how you voted on your ballot, but that you are there and voting is public record.’”

Other results

Three seats were available for the AK Warner Trust with a two-year term, with Marilyn Hannan getting 2,122 votes and Sally Ahearn getting 3,191.

Incumbent Richard Shortell ran unopposed for trustee under Oliver Smith with a two-year term, receiving 3,410 votes.

There were no candidates on the ballot for an assessor position and three seats on the Jennie Bascom Education Fund with a two-year term. Joe Ruggeri ran as a write-in candidate for assessor, receiving 329 write-in votes.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at 413-772-0261, ext. 263 or mbourdeau@recorder.com.


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