Town Manager Jeff Hull Thanks Shriners Auditorium For Providing Their Space At No Charge For November 3 Election

Below is the latest “From The Manager’s Desk” column from the October-December 2020 Town Topics Newsletter:

WILMINGTON, MA — Life since early March has been anything but normal for residents, people across the country and throughout the world. No one alive today has experienced a pandemic like Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19). First and foremost, let me offer my deepest sympathies to all those who have been personally affected, or seen family and friends sidelined or pass away, from this devastating respiratory illness. Many lives have been upended due to impacts from job loss, quarantine requirements, and restricted access to medical care to name a few challenges.

The Town has responded to the pandemic on many fronts with the underlying goal of protecting the health and wellbeing of residents and employees and doing our part to keep the number of COVID-19 cases in Wilmington low. One of the greatest challenges as we work through providing services in a COVID-19 environment in the uncertainty about future conditions. Will there be a second wave and, if so, when? While Town Hall has been closed to the public, drive up window service is working. The Senior Center remains closed to patrons with limited outdoor programs. Wilmington Memorial Library has curbside pick-up of library materials and limited “by appointment” access. The Veterans’ Services Office is operating by appointment. Residents will be informed as Town offices more fully reopen. Understandably, these measures have presented a level of inconvenience. The patience of residents and all patrons is greatly appreciated.

Both the spring local elections and the September state primary have also been impacted. While modifications were made to the polling locations, due to lower voter turnout the existing three polling locations were able to be used in a safe and efficient manner.

November 3, 2020 is Election Day here in Massachusetts and across the country. Residents will be voting to fill both state and national offices including President of the United States. The Presidential election historically generates the largest voter turnout in the election cycle. At their September 15, 2020 meeting, Selectmen approved the recommendation to change voting locations in light of this ongoing pandemic.

Customarily residents in Wilmington’s six precincts vote either at the Town Hall, Wildwood Early Childhood Center, or the Boutwell Early Childhood Center. For the November 3rd election only, voters seeking to cast in-person ballots, regardless of precinct, will vote at the Shriners Auditorium at 99 Fordham Road in Wilmington. Polls open at 7am and close at 8pm. The last day to register to vote is Saturday, October 24, 2020. The Town Clerk’s Office will be accepting registrations on that date between 2pm and 4pm and between 7pm and 8pm.

Access to the Shriners Auditorium will enable the use of more voting booths than could be used in the three locations customarily used. More voting booths will increase the number of residents permitted to vote simultaneously and expedite voting. Expedited voting will reduce the wait time. The three locations where voting currently occurs dod not have adequate queuing space which would likely result in lines extending outside. Voters standing in line outside could be problematic with November weather. The Town wishes to thank the Shriners Auditorium for their generosity and eagerness to make their space available to the Town at no charge.

Alternatives to in-person voting at the Shriners Auditorium are also available. Early voting begins on October 17, 2020 and continues through October 30, 2020 at the Town Hall. During this period, residents will be able to vote Monday through Friday. Additionally, polls will be open for in-person voting on Saturday, October 17, Sunday, October 18, Saturday, October 24, and Sunday, October 25. All early voting will take place at Town Hall.

The second alternative is to vote by mail. The deadline to apply for a mail in ballot is Wednesday, October 28th at 5pm. Completed ballots can be mailed in the self-addressed envelope provided by the Town or brought to the Town Hall and placed in the mail drop slot which is to the left of the main entrance to Town Hall. Specific hours for voting and other details about the election may be found by going to the Town Clerk’s website at www.wilmingtonma.gov/town-clerk/pages/voting-elections. Questions about the upcoming election may be directed to the Town Clerk’s Office by calling 978-658-2030.

Due to the discipline exercised by most residents who wear masks, social distance and refrain from organizing or participating in in large social gatherings, the number of COVID-19 cases in Wilmington has remained relatively low. As impatient as we all are to return to life as we knew it “pre-COVID,” getting beyond this pandemic is a marathon not a sprint. It requires diligence in following the guidelines. Please do your part to help all of us weather this storm.

Linda Pavluk recently retired after serving as Assistant Librarian since 1999. Her dedication to library patrons over the past 21 years is truly appreciated and she is extended best wishes for a healthy and active retirement.

As we close out calendar year 2020, it is my sincere hope that the measures we are taking make COVID-19 a pandemic that we can refer to in the past tense. Be safe.

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