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ELECTION 2012: Lexington Could Pair Presidential Primaries, Local Elections

Town Clerk Donna Hooper offers suggestions for dealing with "challenging" election year.

They say all politics is local, and that could be the case for Lexington voters in March 2012 if officials act on Town Clerk Donna Hooper's recommendation to hold annual Town Elections and the presidential primaries on the same day.

Deciding who to vote for may not be the only challenge for Lexington in 2012, according to Hooper, who said school renovation work, newly drawn precinct boundaries and holidays are other potential factors affecting presidential and state primaries, the annual town election and the big one next November.

Due to some of those elements, along with potential for cost savings, Hooper is recommending the town hold its annual election the same day as the presidential primary in March, provided that the latter is not moved to June. 

Hooper made her recommendation at the Board of Selectmen’s Oct. 24 meeting, but said she was not looking for any commitment at this time, because some elements are still up in the air. The selectmen said they would revisit her recommendation in two weeks.

In a scenario Hooper presented on Monday included holding the annual town election in conjunction with the presidential primary on Tuesday, March 6. Otherwise, it’s possible the town elections would be scheduled for Monday, March 5.

Hooper said holding the two at one time would mean voters have two sets of check-in and checkout lists and multiple ballots, but just one trip to the polls. “There are definitely benefits, and we do think the benefits outweigh the challenge of doing two at once,” she said.

Other dual vote benefits noted by Hooper include higher turnout for both; reduced inconveniences to polling places; an easier absentee process and a reduction in staffing costs and police details.

There is recent precedent for holding the town elections and presidential primary together. In 2004, both were held on Tuesday, March 2, according to Hooper, who said the situation was avoided in 2008, when the presidential primary was moved to the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday.

“In 2004, the offices stepped up to the challenge of a dual election and we’re prepared to do it again in 2012,” Hooper said.

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