By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
While town clerks across the state are struggling to deal with the huge increase in mail-in voting, Sherborn’s Jacklyn Morris’ job is even tougher. That's because while everyone is dealing with the primary elections, Sherborn is holding a dual election, for both the special town election and the state primary.
As a result, Morris noted she is dealing with 2,600 envelopes her team needs to open between the two elections, with a very real possibility that even more will come in. To deal with the increased load, Morris has a couple of extra machines she could use if she wants.
One of the interesting things is the way the machines are tested. While she’s never had a machine test incorrect, Morris told me she’s been checking all of her machines to make sure they’re getting the correct votes.
“You mark up ballots. We’re required to do fifty Republican ballots, fifty Democrat ballots, five Libertarian Party ballots and five Green/Rainbow Party ballots. What we do is we mark them up as if we’re voting, and then we do a spreadsheet with slash marks on how much each candidate or question received. You run them through the machine and when you get the tape out, you make sure it matches. It’s just to make sure the machines are correct, so when people cast their ballot, if they’re voting for Joe Smith, their vote doesn’t go to someone else. It’s required by the state.”
But while you may feel safe with the voting machines themselves, a lot of people seem to be uncertain about the Post Office and its ability to handle their ballots. Interestingly, Morris told me that while you can drop off your ballot at a drop box and not have to deal with the Post Office at all, ballots need to be mailed to the voters themselves. So while you can drop off a ballot directly to her, you are not legally allowed to pick one up directly from her - it must be mailed to you.
Morris said there is an increase in mail-in ballot requests for this coming primary election. She said it was basically unheard of, reaching numbers never before seen.
“I’ve probably processed 1,300 ballots. The presidential primary in 2016, I only had 113 absentee ballots. So it’s huge. It’s like ten times the amount.”
Morris currently has around 1,500 ballot requests for the November election, as well, which she thinks is a good thing for the presidential elections, because it means she will have more time to make sure everything goes smoothly.
“The one thing is that at least in my case - and I’m sure in a lot of other towns - we have a lot of applications for November already. So, we can start preparing the envelopes. Every envelope has to have a bar-code so we can scan the voter history into the state computer. So if we can have the envelopes and things we need, we can start doing it early, and start doing it before we get the ballots from the state. Because we won’t even get the ballots until probably the latter part of the first week of October.”
While maintaining social distancing while casting your ballot, or having to wait a bit longer for pens to be sanitized might be frustrating for you as a voter, Morris is the one putting in the real work to make sure the elections run smoothly.