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Mendon Supports Bill to Move Election Primaries to June

The Mendon Board of Selectmen voiced their support for a bill that would move the 2012 presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in June to coincide with the state primaries and local elections, which would also be moved from September to the June date. Town Clerk Margaret Bonderenko discussed the bill during an October 11 meeting.

House Bill 1972 was filed in January and is being sponsored by State Rep. James Dwyer, D. Woburn, and Minority Leader Bradley Jones, R. North Reading, and is now pending the General Court's decision.

The purpose of moving the primaries to June is to benefit military personnel serving overseas as well as other citizens living abroad. If the state primary were moved to June, it would increase the time for town officials to mail ballots to those Massachusetts residents overseas and have them returned.

Currently, soldiers or others voting overseas must sign a waiver agreeing to relinquish their right to a secret ballot. "Right now, they're giving up their right to a secret ballot because they have to email their vote or fax it and someone sees it," said Bonderenko in an interview after the Board meeting.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program has come out in favor of the bill stating it will significantly improve voter success for many military members and other overseas voters. During the last election, Massachusetts had a very low turnout among military personnel overseas.

The bill also supports moving the presidential primary to June to coincide with the state primary, which would save $8 million statewide. "I support it," said Bonderenko. "They're (soldiers) serving our country. They should be allowed to vote. Plus, it's saving the town money," she said. Selectmen Michael Goddard agreed. "I think it's a good idea," he said.

In other news that evening, Finance Committee Chair Rich Schofield went over some budgetary figures with the Board in the hopes of being able to reinstate a recently laid off police officer. According to Schofield, if the Board decided to reinstate the officer, his salary for the remainder of this fiscal year would be $46,900.

Schofield's figures also showed that by rehiring the officer, the maximum unemployment avoidance would add up to $20,625. In addition, a police clerk's position which was eliminated at the beginning of the fiscal year totaled $30,458 and would not be hired back next year.

"We're paying for unemployment. It's more beneficial having the extra police officer," said Selectman Lawney Tinio. The Board decided to take the information under advisement and would make a decision on reinstating the officer as early as the following week.


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