There is no perfect time to hold an election, according to town clerks we spoke with recently. Of course, the day after Labor Day would be about the least perfect time, except, perhaps, the day after Christmas, or the Fourth of July.
Don’t blame the clerks. They don’t choose the day of the election, which is set by the secretary of state. The town clerks just make sure it’s run properly and all the votes are counted.
This happens every time there’s a primary election, which is every two years. You need to leave enough time for candidates to campaign in the general election, and you don’t want to hold an election during the height of summer, when no one is paying attention. Hey, at least the primary election is on a Tuesday — something we have been conditioned to accept. One year someone came up with the bright idea of holding it the Thursday after Labor Day, which was even more confusing.
Why is it a bad time? People are just wrapping up vacations, and we’re just being jolted out of that summer feeling of being blissfully unaware. (Although with the weather we’ve had recently, it feels more like early August than being on the cusp of September, which is sure to add to everyone’s confusion.) We’re all returning to our routines and off-season realities — some of it welcome, some of it we’d love to delay.
“It’s also the first day of school on the Island, a hectic day for all,” J. Hillary Conklin, town clerk for the town of Tisbury, said of Sept. 4.
There’s a lot to focus on without tossing a primary election into the mix.
But that’s what we have, and so that’s what we have to deal with and embrace.
In a primary election, we choose the candidates who will run in the general election, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 6. If you’re a registered Republican, you grab a Republican ballot and choose from that slate of candidates. If you’re a Democrat, you select from Democratic candidates. There is also a Libertarian ballot, although there is just one lonely candidate on that ballot.
Unenrolled voters, which includes the vast majority of voters, will have a decision to make. They must decide whether they want to vote for the Republican, Democratic, or Libertarian slate. After casting ballots in the election, they’ll be returned to their registered status as unenrolled.
This is an important race both statewide and locally. There are primary races for governor for Republicans, where Gov. Charlie Baker faces a challenge from Scott Lively, and on the Democratic side, where Jay Gonzalez goes head-to-head with Bob Massie. There’s also a rare primary race for secretary of state, where longtime Democrat Bill Galvin faces off against Josh Zakim.
James McMahon III and Daniel Shores are running for the Republican nomination for attorney general, while Maura Healey is unopposed as a Democrat.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is unopposed in the primary on the Democratic side, but three Republicans — Geoff Diehl, John Kingston, and Beth Lindstrom — seek the nod to run against her.
Don’t know much about these statewide candidates? This gives you a long weekend to do some research.
And while those races are certainly important in picking who will be on the ballot in November, there are key local races as well.
Dukes County Superior Court Clerk Joseph Sollitto, a fixture in the Edgartown courthouse, is retiring after more than 40 years at the court. There are two Democrats running to succeed Sollitto as clerk. They are T. George Davis and Charlie Moreno. We published their responses to questions last week, which we hope will help inform voters on which of these men to choose. Unenrolled candidate Anthony Piland is automatically on the ballot because there is no primary for independent candidates.
The clerk’s race is not the only race of Island importance. There are also two Democratic candidates — Gail Barmakian and Daphne DeVries — for register of probate, which handles estates, divorces, and child custody issues. We also did interviews with them, which were published last week and appear on our website.
We hope to see you at the polls — after you safely get the kids onto the bus and post those first day of school Facebook photos, of course.