Berkshire County election officials brace for big turnout

Tuesday November 6, 2012

Local polling places -- especially where paper ballots are used -- will be heavily staffed today to handle the expected crush of voters for Election Day.

The polls in Berkshire County and throughout Massachusetts will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

As in 2008, local election officials are bracing for an onslaught at the polls this year, driven by the presidential election between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Local election officials expect today's voter turnout to match the 67 percent of registered voters in the Berkshires' 32 cities and towns who went to the polls four years ago. The turnout was mainly driven by the battle between Obama and Republican John McCain.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin has predicted a 73 percent voter turnout statewide, on par with the turnout in 2008. Galvin said that anyone who's in line by the time the polls close at 8 p.m. will still be allowed to vote.

Berkshire city and town clerks have beefed up staffing at the polls to ensure the lines move smoothly and the results get posted quickly.

Sheffield Town Clerk Felecie Joyce has more than tripled the number of people on hand who will tabulate the votes, compared to the state primary held in September, because the town still uses paper ballots.

"I expect we'll have an 85 percent turnout, just like the last two presidential elections," said Sheffield Town Clerk Felecie Joyce. "That's why we've in creased the number of counters from the usual four to 14."

In Williamstown, Town Clerk Mary Courtney Kennedy has boosted the usual number of 12 poll workers to 18, in anticipation of an 80 percent voter turnout.

"I'll have additional people on hand to direct voters to the correct table," she said. "The town is divided into three precincts, but we all vote in the same location."

The potential for a surge in inactive voters at the polls and redistricting prompted Pittsfield City Clerk Linda M. Tyer to increase the number of poll workers from six to seven in each of the city's 14 precincts.

"Tables will be set aside for inactive voters to fill out forms if they still live in Pittsfield," she said. "People are placed on the inactive list if they have failed to fill out their local census, which is required by the state every year."

Those on the inactive list must bring proof of their name and current address, such as a drivers license, passport, bank statement or utility bill, in order to vote at their assigned precinct.

Tyer also urged registered voters to double check the precinct in which they reside because the 2010 federal census required Pittsfield to redraw its precinct lines.

Besides the neck-and-neck presidential race, Bay State voters will cast ballots for the hotly contested U.S. Senate seat and three referendum questions.

Locally, the lone state legislative political battle is between Green-Rainbow Party candidate Scott Laugenour and incumbent Democrat William "Smitty" Pignatelli. The two men are vying for the state representative seat in the 4th Berkshire District.

In addition, county voters will help settle the Governor's Council race in the 8th District.

The only municipal contest on the ballot is a three-way battle for two, four-year terms from Sheffield on the Southern Berkshire Regional School District Committee. Voters in the district's five towns will be casting ballots in those races.

To reach Dick Lindsay:,
or (413) 496-6233.

A digital guide for the election

Let The Berkshire Eagle be your digital guide for election results. Here's where and how to follow the action:

On ...

  • Find our latest stories on the election, including the Senate race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, the 4th Berkshire District House race between Scott Laugenour and William "Smitty" Pignatelli, and the statewide ballot questions. The polls close at 8 p.m., and we'll be posting local election tallies soon afterward.
  • is hosting a countywide interactive map for the presidential, Massachusetts Senate, 4th Berkshire District and ballot question results. Here, you'll be able to find out how your neighbors voted and how cities and towns in your county came down on the candidates and the questions.
  • Our live coverage programming at begins at 12:30 p.m. and includes guests, such as conservative author Ann Coulter and CNN media analyst Howard Kurtz. At 4 p.m., follow our live blog covering national election news coverage throughout the night.

On Twitter ...

  • If you're on Twitter, follow @BerkshireEagle ( for the latest updates on local, state and national election results. Tweet us your thoughts on the election.
  • If you're curious what's going on in the newsroom on election night, follow Managing Editor Kevin Moran, @iamberkshire
    ( for behind-the-scenes information and field reports from the Berkshires.

On Facebook ...

  • We'll be posting latest news and voting results on Facebook at where you can interact with the news as it's unfolding. You'll also be able to follow our Berkshire County voting map here, too.


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