, Gloucester, MA


October 15, 2013

Letter: Voter eligibility a Rockport issue, too

An article in the Times, Friday, Oct. 11, details a scheduled public hearing concerned with voter registration laws, especially applicable to residents who appear able to register to vote in at least two different districts within the Commonwealth.

Sen. Bruce Tarr has scheduled the hearing for purposes of discussing a new bill on this subject, proposed on behalf of Essex, a town frustrated by existing direction. Essex has endured months of time and costs of legal action, and is still nowhere near finished with the subject.

The Times story discloses that some in Rockport are now concerned with the same issue; although that concern is muted in what appears to be a “so what” attitude expressed by our officials.

The senator’s efforts on behalf of his constituency are legion and legend. But, taking the announcement of the public hearing in context, it is suggested that the Senate concern itself with how certain towns are presently in this mess.

I learned of the potential for “dual” voter registration, just as Rockport began a genuine look into how such a proposal applies to its Long Beach colony. The activity here is apparently a year old. The concept didn’t ring true.

I contacted the Office of the Secretary of State, requesting assistance in determining what law, or statute governs the process. The initial response; “It is unclear whether the persons at these residences are registered to vote, or just being allowed to attend and speak at Town Meetings. In either scenario, this office does not have any policy or statute relative to the “registration” of part-time residents, other than case law regarding residence for voter purposes.”

Note the phrase “case law,” which in so many cases of “gotcha” in this Commonwealth, makes things right. The response included the statement that the office would contact the Rockport town clerk to determine the source it used for its acceptance of Long Beach registrations. Surprisingly, the town clerk’s office confirmed that some people who are Long Beach are registered to vote from Long Beach residences.

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