West Tisbury: Spring break, soup and bread lunches, and town voting system

—MV Times

It’s the last day of this Leap Year in February. Funny to have such a simple solution every four years to straighten out our calendar.

It’s also school vacation week, so it may feel quieter in town. I know lots of families head off-Island to ski, lie on a sunny beach, visit family or friends, or just stay put here at home. It’s a break, however it’s spent.

Wear muck boots if you stay at home. The ground is muddy from all the wet weather we have had. The snowfall that canceled school last Monday has almost melted and there has been intermittent rain, too. Abby has loved playing and rolling in the snow, but now she comes in all muddy from her walks. Our yard is a cross-hatched pattern of tracks to the woodpile, the compost pile, and our driveway is rutted with tire tracks. A mess.

There are free soup and bread lunches at the library every weekday through the vacation. West Tisbury Parks & Rec is sponsoring a free family skate on Saturday, March 2, 11 am. to noon at the ice rink. All are welcome. Skate rentals are available. Hot chocolate and drinks will be provided. Please bring a snack to share. For more information: parkrec@westtisbury-ma.gov.

“A Passion for Oysters” will be shown at the M.V. Film Center on Sunday, March 3, at 4 pm., followed by a panel discussion and oyster fest of fresh oysters provided by local oyster farms. The film was produced by Sandy Cannon Brown, a board member of Tisbury Waterworks, Inc. There is more information on the Film Center website.

Last Saturday was the last day to register to vote before Super Tuesday, primary day in Massachusetts, and several other states across the country. As a Registrar of Voters, I sat at the Public Safety Building for a few hours that morning. Hasty Runner was my companion at the desk and our Town Clerk Tara Whiting-Wells ran the show.

It was also the first day of early in-person voting, which will continue through this week, Monday through Friday, 8 to 11 am, at the Public Safety Building. We had a surprisingly brisk turnout before being relieved by fellow-registrar Bernice Kirby, with Barbara and Sue Silk manning the table.

I love working at the polls. Always have. I love seeing people I don’t usually run into and often meeting someone new. I love participating in this momentous affirmation of our civic responsibility. Saturday was no exception.

I am always amazed at how well-managed our voting system is. Tara regularly attends state-run classes for town clerks, as regulations are updated in the state. It is important to me that I reassure any voters who fear it is possible to alter votes or misstate results of any election. It isn’t. We are so careful to make sure voters are eligible and duly registered, that their votes are carefully documented, stored, and counted. I truly believe that it is a terribly destructive falsehood to spread distrust in our system.

I acknowledge that West Tisbury is a small town where whoever checks in voters is likely to know many of them. Still, every person has to check in and have their names and street addresses verified on the voters’ list. For early voting, the ballots go into sealed envelopes, signed by the voter, then taken to a sealed vault in town hall, to be hand-counted on election day. Similar protocols are in place for mail-in ballots; they can be mailed or left in the drop box inside the town hall lobby, open between 7 am and 9 pm. Numbers of ballots, both mail-in and in-person, are matched throughout the day.

Election day ballots are counted on-site by the counting machine, and can be verified by hand, if need be. We use paper ballots that are marked in black ink. If there are any questions, ballots are hand-counted and verified by election workers, registrars, and the town clerk.

Massachusetts is a state that has open primaries, meaning that unaffiliated voters can choose which ballot to take. This year there are Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian ballots. If you are registered with a party, you are required to take that party’s ballot.

I hope this is reassuring and I hope everyone will vote on Tuesday, March 5, at the Public Safety Building. Polls open at 7 am and close at 8 pm. We are all Americans together. We all want the best for our country. Civics 101: Educate yourself and Vote.

If you have any West Tisbury Town Column suggestions, email Hermine Hull, hermine.hull@gmail.com.