Voice of the Northern Berkshires

Jan. 4, 2006


Cheshire rejects voting mandate for machines

By Shaw Israel Izikson, North Adams Transcript

January 4

CHESHIRE According to the Selectmen, if it ain't broke for over 213 years, don't fix it.

During a meeting Tuesday, the Selectmen signed a letter to Secretary of State William F. Galvin, saying that they would not comply with the federal Help America Vote Act, which would require the town to buy an electronic voting machine for elections.


The act, signed into law by President Bush in 2002, requires all polling stations in the country to be equipped with an electronic voting system by November 2006.


In the letter, the Selectmen said that the town would continue to use paper ballots for elections, has been the practice for all 213 years of Cheshire's existence.


The letter, prepared by Town Administrator Mark Webber, said in part that "The Town of Cheshire, along with 20 percent of the rest of the Commonwealth's communities, still uses and is perfectly satisfied with the paper ballot system of voting.


"This system has served us well for the past 213 years, and we see no compelling reason to change," the letters states.


Selectman Paul F. Astorino said the town does not need a modern voting machine because of its small population. "If we had thousands of people in this town, we'd get one, but we don't," he said.


Cheshire has about 3,500 residents.


Town Clerk Christine B. Emerson, who is also head of elections for the town, said buying a new voting machine would cost too much for the town, and that the town already had a system for disabled voters in place. "What is being overlooked here is that there already is a mechanism in place for disabled voters and it's the absentee ballot system," she said.


Funding expected


In other business, Webber said that he was going to be meeting with Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency representatives next Thursday, and that he was optimistic that the town would be receiving aid from damage caused by Tropical Storm Tammy back in October.


"I think we're going to get the money we're after," he said. "We just have to do our due diligence with the paperwork."


Selectwoman Carol A. Francesconi asked Public Works Department Administrator Peter LeFebvre to take down the Christmas lights from Town Hall, which he did.


"There goes the lights, and another year gone," Chairman Daniel J. Delorey said.



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