Voters throughout the region will head to the polls tomorrow in an election that is expected to draw heavy turnout.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. across Massachusetts. In Amesbury, voters will be going to a new polling place — Amesbury High School on Highland Avenue — in part because of the expected turnout.
Election clerks throughout the state are preparing for a large number of voters, based on the large number of absentee ballots that have been requested. In West Newbury, Town Clerk Michael McCarron said with a record 302 absentee ballot requests already submitted — and more anticipated by Election Day — he is doubling the number of voting booths to accommodate what he believes will be a larger-than-typical turnout at the polls.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is noon today and the ballot must be returned before the polls close at 8 p.m. tomorrow.
“I believe that this will be the largest turnout in our history,” said McCarron, who expects polling workers will be tallying results long after the polls close.
In addition to turnout, an unusually long ballot may also slow the process — unless voters take the time to review it ahead of time.
The ballot in greater Newburyport contains three high profile races — for president, U.S. Senate and U.S. representative — plus state Senate and House races, a variety of statewide ballot questions and referendum questions, and in Newbury, a proposed property tax hike. West Newbury voters also face a rare “tax underride” vote, which would reduce the town’s overall tax burden by $180,000.
On the presidential election, voters will see four parties on the ballot — Democratic President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, GOP challenger Mitt Romney and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, plus Libertarian and Green-Rainbow party candidates.
In the U.S. Senate race, two candidates appear on the ballot — Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. In the U.S. representative race, Democratic Congressman John Tierney appears on the ballot with two challengers, Republican Richard Tisei and Libertarian Daniel Fishman.
Also on the ballot is a race for the Governors Council, a board that selects candidates for state judicial posts. The candidates are Republican Maura Ciardiello and Democrat Eileen Duff.
In Newburyport, Amesbury, Salisbury, and Merrimac, voters will see four candidates vying for the state Senate seat that was vacated by Sen. Steven Baddour earlier this year. The candidates are Democrat Kathleen O’Connor Ives, Republican Shawn Toohey, Independent Paul Magliocchetti and unenrolled candidate James Kelcourse.
In Newbury, West Newbury, Georgetown, Groveland and Merrimac, Democrat Barry Fogel and Republican Lenny Mirra are vying for the state representative seat that Harriett Stanley has held for nearly 18 years. Stanley is retiring at the end of her current term, which expires in January. For decades Rowley voters were also in Stanley’s district, but they were removed from it when the district’s boundaries were redrawn earlier this year. Rowley voters are now in a district represented by Republican Brad Hill of Ipswich.
Also on the ballot are a variety of ballot questions. All voters in the state will have questions 1, 2 and 3, while a slate of other ballot questions varies from town to town.
A yes vote on Question 1 gives independent auto mechanics greater access to repair data and diagnostic codes. If it passes, Massachusetts will be the first in the nation to approve the measure.
A yes vote on Question 2 allows terminally ill people to end their lives with pills prescribed by a physician. Although the question has been dubbed “doctor-assisted suicide,” doctors will play no part in the actual administration of the lethal pills. Assisted suicide is legal in two other states, Washington and Oregon.
A yes vote on Question 3 will legalize medical marijuana. Some 17 other states have passed similar measures.
The following is a look at the contested races and ballot questions that voters will see on their Massachusetts election ballots in the Newburyport area. The names are listed in the order they appear on the ballot:
President and Vice President
Johnson and Gray, Libertarian
Obama and Biden, Democrat
Romney and Ryan, Republican
Stein and Honkala, Green-Rainbow
Senator in Congress
Scott P. Brown, Republican
Elizabeth A. Warren, Democrat
Representative in Congress
John F. Tierney, Democrat
Richard R. Tisei, Republican
Daniel Fishman, Libertarian
Councilor, 5th District
Maura L.P. Ciardiello, Republican
Eileen R. Duff, Democrat
In Newburyport, Amesbury, Salisbury, and Merrimac:
Senator in General Court
Kathleen A. O’Connor Ives, Democrat
Shaun P. Toohey, Republican
James M. Kelcourse, Unenrolled
Paul A. Magliocchetti, Independent
In Newbury, West Newbury, Groveland, Georgetown, and Merrimac:
Representative in General Court
Barry P. Fogel, Democrat
Leonard Mirra, Republican
Ballot Question 1 — “Right to Repair”
A “yes” vote would force auto manufacturers to share computer codes with auto repair shops in order to aid in the repair of vehicles. A “no” vote will leave in place a compromise bill the state Legislature passed this year that has less strict standards on the release of the information.
Ballot Question 2 — “Assisted Suicide”
A “yes” vote allows a physician licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at the request of a terminally ill patient, to end that person’s life.
Ballot Question 3 — “Medical Marijuana”
A “yes” vote would eliminate state criminal and civil penalties related to the use and production of marijuana for certain medical conditions.
Other Ballot Questions
Most communities also have some non-binding questions on the ballot. The order that the questions appear on the ballot varies slightly, depending on which community you are voting in. The questions are:
Instruct state representative to vote in favor of a resolution that prohibits the intent of the landmark Citizens United case, which allowed corporations to spend money on political campaigns.
Instruct state senator to vote in favor of resolution to repeal federal laws regarding marijuana, allowing states to govern its usage as they choose.
Instruct state representative to vote in favor of a resolution that maintains entitlement programs, “provide new revenues” to reduce federal debt, raise taxes on wealthy and redirect military spending on domestic needs.