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29 percent voted early in Arlington

UPDATED, Nov. 29: Arlington's first early voting was a hit. 

Consider Saturday, Oct. 29, when Town Hall was open from 9 to 5, so voters could cast ballots in the Nov. 8 election: A total of 1,567 voted here for president, state and local candidates as well as four ballot questions.

Some had second thoughts. Administrator Marie Krepelka told selectmen Oct. 31 that her office got three calls from early birds who ask to change their votes. That's allowed in some states, but not Massachusetts.

Rich Sullivan, warden for early voting, said Thursday, Nov. 3, that a total of 8,815 had voted through noon that day -- or more than 28 percent of the town's registered voters. In the September primary, Arlington had 31,260 registered voters.

The final total, reported by the selectmen's office via the clerk Nov. 29, was 9,651. That is 29 percent of the 32,291 registered for the presidential election.

Through Oct. 29, the total of early voters had been 4,947. That included these numbers -- an average of 430 daily from Oct. 24, the day early voting began, through Oct. 26; 1,066 on Oct. 27; and 428 Oct. 28, just a four-hour window.

Numbers for the current week remain "rough," Sullivan said, and could change after verification by the clerk's office. They are:

Monday, Oct. 31: 803

Tuesday, Nov. 1: 772

Wednesday, Nov. 2: 914

Thursday, Nov. 3 (through noon): 379 

Early voting continued at Town Hall only through Friday, from 8 to noon

A resident voting early puts a marked ballot into an envelope that has name, address and precinct number. That envelope is inserted into a locked box. Ballots are distributed to each of the town's 21 precincts, and on Election Day, they are inserted into machines that include them with other voters from those precincts.

A fuller account of the procedure

A YourArlington reader wondered why voters have to put their name and address on the envelope holding their ballot. Here's why:

That information is on the early ballot envelope so election workers at the voter's precinct can identify and check off that voter on the voting list at the polling place when the workers actually cast the ballot.

At the polling place, the procedures for processing early ballots will be exactly like those for processing absentee ballots, which also arrive at the polling place in envelopes bearing voters' names and addresses.

An in-person voter checks in at the entrance table, marks a ballot, checks out at the exit table and feeds the ballot into the optical-scanner ballot box.

For early and absentee ballots, election workers essentially take the place of the voter in this process, except the workers don't mark the ballot and aren't supposed to even look at it.

After an absentee or early vote ballot is removed from its envelope, and the ballot is fed by an election worker into the optical-scanner ballot box, there is no way to associate the ballot with its envelope. All ballots and all such empty envelopes are retained as part of the paper trail of the election, in case of a recount or audit of the results, but there's no way to associate any ballot with any envelope.

The names, addresses and party registrations of registered voters, and the history of whether or not a particular voter actually cast a ballot in any election, are public record.

What is secret and anonymous is the actual ballot. In other words, anyone can know if you're registered and if you voted, but he or she can't know how you voted.

COST? The current budget of the selectmen's office includes $10,000 to pay for early voting. 

YourArlingtion's 2016 election information
Main town website election link >>

This news report was published Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, and updated Nov. 29, with a final total.

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