By Mac Cerullo Staff Writer
Newburyport Daily News
---- — If voter registration is any indication, turnout for next month’s presidential election should be substantial.
Thousands more residents in Newburyport and Salisbury have registered to vote in the Nov. 6 election than had registered leading up to the last presidential election in 2008.
And other communities throughout the region have reported a heavy volume of new registrations and absentee ballot applications in advance of tomorrow’s voter registration deadline in the state, according to local city and town clerks.
Clerks’ offices throughout the state will remain open until 8 p.m. tomorrow to accommodate last-minute voter registrations. Residents may also download a voter registration form and mail it in. The forms must be postmarked by tomorrow to count.
As of yesterday, there were 3,000 more registered voters in Newburyport and 1,500 more in Salisbury this year than at the same point in 2008.
It’s possible the same jump in voter registrations has occurred in Amesbury, but officials there won’t tally new voter registrations until after tomorrow’s deadline.
Amesbury’s Assistant Town Clerk Christine Rees said there were 10,855 registered voters in the city on Aug. 17, the deadline for registering to vote in last month’s primary, and there has been a substantial increase since then. There were just under 12,000 registered voters in Amesbury prior to the 2008 presidential election, she said.
West Newbury Town Clerk Michael McCarron couldn’t provide voter registration tallies from 2008, but said his office has been swamped with people looking to fill out absentee ballots.
“We’re over about 130 applications so far,” McCarron said yesterday. “I got 10 applications today alone, more than that, actually.”
In addition to the presidential election between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, voters will also decide the hotly contested U.S. Senate race between Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren, the acrimonious 6th District congressional race between Democrat Rep. John Tierney and Republican Richard Tisei and the 1st Essex District state Senate contest among Democrat Kathleen O’Connor Ives of Newburyport, Republican Shaun Toohey of Haverhill and Independent candidates James Kelcourse of Amesbury and Paul Magliocchetti of Haverhill.
There will also be three questions on the statewide ballot, including two that have become highly controversial.
Question 1 concerns the Right to Repair provision, and a yes vote would allow vehicle owners and independent repair facilities in Massachusetts to have access to the same vehicle diagnostic and repair information made available to the manufacturers’ Massachusetts dealers and authorized repair facilities.
Question 2 concerns assisted suicide, and a yes vote would allow a doctor licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at the request of a terminally ill patient meeting certain conditions, to end that person’s life.
Question 3 concerns medical marijuana, and a yes vote would legalize medical marijuana in the state and allow it to be regulated, prescribed and distributed to qualified patients.