Hundreds turn out for first day of early voting

Oct 17, 2020

The 2020 election is officially underway. 

Nearly 350 Dartmouth residents took advantage of the first day of early voting on Oct. 17, becoming the first people in town to cast a ballot in the presidential election, with thousands of mail-in ballots being mailed out for those who've already requested them. 

At times, a line of more than a dozen people stretched inside Town Hall as voters made their way to basement room 103 to exercise their democratic right.

“The line just never ends,” poll volunteer Enid Silva laughed. “It’s almost like the first day of Beach Sticker sales.”

Even with the minor waits, things were “off to a great start,” according to Interim Development Director Cody Haddad. 

He said that “turnout was phenomenal,” noting that in the five hours the polls were open, 336 residents stopped in to cast their votes.

Of the hundreds of voters that came out for the first day, many said they just wanted to get their voting done as soon as possible, while others said they felt it was the best way to know their vote was counted.

“I absolutely want these results to be visible and early,” voter Krista van Dale said.

Joe Biden supporter Rachael Rose said she opted to vote early because she has an upcoming medical procedure that would keep her from standing in line for too long.

Rafael Vila, who works in Fall River, said he came out to early vote because he was unsure if he could get the day off on Nov. 3. 

Vila added that he “proudly voted for Biden” because he is “anti- fascist.” 

No Donald Trump voters wanted to comment. 

In anticipation of the return of nearly 9,000 ballots already sent out, Haddad said the town will open up an advanced processing facility that will begin counting mail-in ballots on Oct. 26.

“That will be a big help to the actual polls,” he said. “Typically these early ballots would go to their precincts on election day, but now we can process as many as we can here.”

Early mail-in ballots can also be mailed to Town Hall or dropped in the large silver dropbox in the front parking lot at Town Hall any time.

The deadline to submit an application to vote by mail or for an absentee ballot for the upcoming election is Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. Ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day.

To check the status of your mail-in ballot, visit the “Track My Ballot” page on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website. Although, Haddad notes that “you do have to be careful with that system just because it can be a bit delayed.”

According to the interim development director, precincts will start reporting results when polls close on Nov. 3, but due to the high numbers of absentee ballots expected to be cast this fall, final results may not be available for up to a few days after the election. 

“I think we’ll have a good idea who wins Dartmouth on election night,” Haddad said. “We will be quick and we will be on it.” 

In-person early voting will continue at Town Hall through Friday, Oct. 30.