Civic Engagement – Voting to Volunteering
By Gregory T. Federspiel
Election season is upon us. The major political parties have held their national conventions, the airwaves (and social media) are filling up with campaign ads and lawn signs are sprouting. One element of being an engaged citizen is exercising your right to vote.
Primary voting is underway. Voters have three options – voting by mail, voting in person early, or voting in person on the day of the primary election, next Tuesday, September 1. The deadline for asking for a mail-in ballot was Wednesday, August 26. At this time, voters who want to vote by mail are encouraged to drop off their sealed ballot into the drop box behind Town Hall rather than risk a late delivery by the postal service. Mail in ballots must be received by the Town Clerk by 8:00PM on September 1. A large number – over 30% of registered Manchester voters -- have requested mail-in ballots.
Early voting, which takes place at Town Hall, concludes on Thursday, August 27 at 6:30PM. Any registered voter can vote early in person.
Primary Election Day is Tuesday, September 1. The polls will be open for all registered voters, including those who requested a mail-in ballot but did not return the ballot. (All mail-in ballots must be in a sealed envelop with the voter’s signature on the outside that is verified.) In-person voting on Tuesday takes place at the regional high school on Lincoln Street in the cafeteria from 7AM until 8PM. Appropriate precautions against COVID 19 will be followed.
A similar three-pronged approach for voting will be available for the general election scheduled for November 3. Those who requested a mail-in ballot for both the primary and the general election will automatically receive a mail-in ballot in October. If you want to request a mail-in ballot but no longer have the postcard from the Secretary of State’s Office, you can download a request form from the Secretary of State’s website or mail in a signed request to the Town Clerk’s Office.
Early voting for the November general election will be available a week prior to the election at Town Hall and on Election Day, November 3, the polls will be open at the high school from 7AM-8PM.
Need assistance with voting? Our Interim Town Clerk, Sharon George, is very a very knowledgeable and experienced Town Clerk who can easily help.
Another important way to exercise your civic engagement is to volunteer for one of the many Town boards or committees. Currently we have 14 vacancies that need a volunteer. The list includes openings on the ADA Committee, Animal Control Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Council on Aging, the Conservation Committee, Downtown Improvement Committee, MBTA Advisory Board, Seaside One, and the Welcoming Committee.
The Town’s Annual Report is a good place to learn more about what each board or committee does. In all the Town has over 30 boards and committees and hundreds of volunteers. The work of these volunteers plays a critical role in the functioning of the Town. Some boards and committees have regulatory functions, approving permits for various activities in town while others are advisory, diving deeper into a particular topic and providing recommendations for action by the Board of Selectmen or directly by the voters at Town Meeting.
Most boards and committees meet one or two times a month. All meetings are posted on the Town’s web site and the meetings are open to the public. Meeting minutes are also available on the Town’s web site for review.
Looking to contribute to the well-being of the Town? Please submit an application to be considered for an appointment. Applicants undergo a brief interview process with the Board of Selectmen who then decide on appointments. Applications (form available on-line or a letter of interest is also acceptable) should be sent to the Selectmen’s Office. And thanks -- volunteers remain at the heart of town governance.