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January 10, 2014

Brimbal vote hits snag

Beverly: Change to one polling place needs special state legislation

BEVERLY — The Secretary of State’s office says Beverly needs emergency state legislation to hold next month’s Brimbal Avenue special election at a single polling place rather than at its usual six locations.

A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office said state law prohibits cities with multiple polling sites from using one location without special legislation from the state Legislature.

State Rep. Jerry Parisella of Beverly said he will file the legislation this week and hopes to have it signed by Gov. Deval Patrick by next week.

“It’s carrying out the wishes of the City Council to have it at one location,” Parisella said.

The City Council voted last month to set the election for Saturday, Feb. 8, at Beverly High School, which will be less expensive than opening the city’s six polling locations.

North Beverly Neighborhood Association member Dan DeAngelis, who spoke against the single location at the City Council meeting, said the council should not have voted for it if it is not allowed by state law.

“Everyone should be able to vote at their home precincts,” DeAngelis said. “It’s the middle of February and it’s going to be difficult to get people out for a vote. Anything that prevents people from showing up to vote is not a good thing.”

The North Beverly Neighborhood Association gathered more than 3,500 signatures to force the election. Voters will decide whether to overturn the City Council’s decision to rezone a parcel of land on Brimbal Avenue that could allow for construction of a $20 million shopping plaza.

Brian McNiff, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, said it is not unprecedented for a city to seek special legislation to change to a single polling location for a special election. He said Woburn did the same thing in 2002.

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