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January 16, 2014

'No' vote on Brimbal faces high bar

20 percent of city's registered voters must vote against rezoning

(Continued)

“We don’t believe that is true, but the city solicitor says it is true,” DeAngelis said.

“It just doesn’t seem fair,” he said. “We don’t just need 5,000 people to show up at the polls, we need 5,000 people to show up and vote “no.” Even if we win 100 percent of the majority, we could still fail because we couldn’t get enough people to the polls that day. Let’s make it an even race between the two sides, so both sides get a chance.”

Cahill said the authors of the city charter wanted to ensure that a vote to overturn a decision by elected officials would “represent the will of a significant percentage of the electorate.”

“If you had a special election with a very low turnout, you wouldn’t see significant policy changes made in the community by a really small percentage of voters,” Cahill said.

DeAngelis said drawing voters will be made more difficult by the City Council’s decision to hold the special election at a single polling place, Beverly High School, rather than the usual six voting locations in wards throughout the city.

“It’s certainly not going to help voter turnout,” he said. “Telling people they have to go to a polling place they’ve never gone to before just is not fair.”

The City Council voted on Dec. 2 to hold the election at Beverly High School, but the Secretary of State’s office ruled that the city needed special legislation to make the change.

That legislation passed the House of Representatives yesterday and will now go to the Senate and then to the governor.

In a letter to legislators urging passage of the legislation, Gov. Deval Patrick said the single polling location will “ease traffic and save money.”

DeAngelis said forcing everyone to vote in the same place will make traffic worse, not better.

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