March 16 2020

Burlington In Process of Postponing April 4 Town Election

By: Rich Hosford

For the first time in at least 100 years Burlington will likely have an election postponed. 


Town Clerk Amy Warfield told BNEWS on Monday afternoon that after discussing the current Coronavirus/COVID-19 updates with the town administration, they have decided to start the process of postponing the Town Election scheduled for Saturday, April 4. 


The decision came after Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Sunday that he was urging all residents to avoid any gatherings of 25 people or more. 


“The governor stating that he didn’t want groups of more than 25 gathering in any one location made it clear we should postpone,” Warfield said. “We all do go to the same polling place and at a minimum we have 28 election workers.” 


Warfield added that making voters wait outside of the polling place to limit the number of people in any one location at a time would be a burden on voters. 


To postpone an election the town would either need to get a special act from the State Legislature or what is called a “Governor’s Bill” where the town asks the governor to petition the legislature directly. However, because there are many towns with local elections planned for this spring Warfield said that State Secretary Bill Galvin’s office is working on a piece of legislation that would ease the process and give towns blanket permission to postpone elections. 


If the postponement is approved at the state level, the Burlington Board of Selectmen would vote on a new date for the Town Election. Warfield said the date she would propose is still to be determined and will depend on how the Coronavirus situation progresses. 


Warfield also said residents have the option of voting absentee. Applications for absentee ballots can be found on the town website or by mail by writing to Burlington Town Clerk, 29 Center Street Burlington, Massachusetts 01803. Technically state law says that absentee voting can only be done by someone who will not be in town, has a physical disability or has a religious reason they cannot participate that day. However, Warfield said a concern over health, especially during this time, is sufficient. 


Finally, the election is still technically the “April 4 Election” on paper so anyone who submitted an absentee ballot with the April 4 date should know that ballot is still legitimate and will be accepted at the polls. Anyone applying for an absentee ballot can write in “Burlington Town Election” going forward. 


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