By BOB HOLMES
READING – The library has always been a place to get a book, meet a friend, even get together for community conversations. Now you can add one more thing to the list: voting.
At Tuesday’s Select Board meeting, Town Manager Bob LeLacheur said early voting will move from Town Hall to the Reading Public Library.
“Early voting, the week before the polls open in early September, will be in the bottom two conference rooms, adjoining conference rooms of the public library,” said LeLacheur. “That will be a change. For early voting previously, we’ve had it at Town Hall but Town Hall doesn’t have the physical space necessary to have this safely.”
Thursday morning at the library, DPW and facilities staff were joined by Paula Curren of the Board of Health to lay out the rooms and make sure everything is in place for residents to vote safely.
While that is going on, the town of Reading has begun an all-out effort to get you, me, and everyone who calls 01867 home to vote by mail, or vote early.
“We’ll put plenty of information out there. We have got a few questions already as these started arriving in the mail,” said LeLacheur, who said all social media tools in the town tool belt will be used. “This is something very new, something very different.”
The voting at the RMHS Field House on Sept. 1 will also be different this year as the town adjusts to life in a health pandemic.
”The field house set up also has to be a little bit different than in previous years for social distancing reasons,” explained LeLacheur. “One of the things we’re all a little bit concerned about but really can’t know is what will the lines be like for voters. From many perspectives it would be awfully nice if there weren’t lines and people did vote early or vote by mail.
“In terms of voting by mail, many people should have received their postcards at home, like I did. We received one more than expected, so we’ll have to work out that, but in general the voting by mail application has three options,” said LeLacheur, listing boxes on the application for Sept. 1 primary, Nov. 3 election, or all 2020 elections. “It’s pretty simple.”
To help residents, the town has compiled a FAQ guide on the town website (readingma.gov). For example:
When will the early voting period begin and end?
In-person early voting period for the September 1st State Primary and September 1st Recall Election will begin on Saturday, August 22nd and end Friday, August 28th. In-person early voting period for the November 3rd State Election will begin on Saturday, October 17th and end on Sunday, October 25th.
The site is filled with information for residents to make voting easier. And to town officials, that means voting from the comfort of your own home.
“We always encourage people to vote but, in this case, it would be nice if they would vote safely at home,” said LeLacheur.
With early voting and vote-by-mail, Town Clerk Laura Gemme expects she’ll need some extra help. Anyone interested in working during the elections can contact Gemme by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.