BERLIN – The Berlin Board of Supervisors of Elections met this week as preparations for the municipal election have begun.
Mary Bohlen, deputy town administrator, welcomed the board’s new members and reviewed procedures for the election.
“It’s a learning experience for all of us every two years,” Bohlen said.
The election, set for Oct. 6, will be the town’s first since 2016. The 2018 election was canceled because incumbents faced no challengers. This year, there are already three candidates for mayor, two candidates for the at-large seat and one candidate in District 2. The board is expected to meet again in September after the Sept. 4 filing deadline. Bohlen said that was the candidate filing deadline, the voter registration deadline and the date the town would begin accepting absentee applications.
She said officials would be encouraging absentee voting to cut down on the number of people at the polls on Oct. 6 in an effort to enforce social distancing restrictions.
“We are strongly encouraging people to absentee vote,” Bohlen said. “They don’t have to have a reason. Back in the day you used to have to say you were on vacation, ill, whatever. You don’t need to do that anymore you just need to make the request. That hopefully will cut down on the number of people who are actually trying to vote live.”
Because COVID-19 remains a concern, Bohlen said the town was purchasing PPE and reviewing the polling locations — Buckingham Presbyterian Church and the Berlin Police Department — to ensure proper spacing.
“We’re giving a lot of thought this year to social distancing and how we’re going to accomplish that…,” she said. “We’re taking into account everything we possibly can to ensure it’s a safe and good environment for everybody.”
When asked whether there were any issues or concerns from years past, Bohlen said the only problem usually encountered was resident confusion regarding their official voting site.
“Most of the time I think the issues have been related to thinking they live in a certain district and they’re at the wrong polling place,” Bohlen said.
In response to a question regarding why the town’s election wasn’t the same date as the national election, Bohlen said it was because voting districts didn’t necessarily line up and people might have to visit more than one polling place.
“Although it seems simple on the surface it’s not,” she said.
The board is scheduled to meet again Sept. 8 and Sept. 29. The town election is set for Oct. 6.