The Boston City Council voted Wednesday to move the city's preliminary election up by a week to allow officials more time to facilitate mail-in voting should the Legislature extend the voting reform through the fall or make it permanent. The date change passed with nearly all members voting in favor and Councilor Annissa Essaibi George voting present.
The proposal still needs Mayor Kim Janey's signature to take effect. If Janey signs it into law, the city's preliminary election would move from Sept. 21 to Sept. 14, a measure that former Mayor Marty Walsh supported prior to his departure. The Committee on Government Operations, led by Councilor Lydia Edwards, held a hearing on the matter last week.
At Wednesday's meeting, Edwards summarized the testimony and recommended the measure ought to pass.
"I believe that the city's elections department explained that changing the date of the preliminary election will allow for the election department to move more efficiently and I trust their judgment," Edwards said. During the hearing last week, Boston Commissioner of Elections Eneida Tavares said that her department would face a short turnaround time between the preliminary election and the Nov. 2 general election to print and distribute vote by mail ballots if the city did not move the preliminary election date a week earlier.
Tavares said ballots for the November election cannot be printed until officials certify the preliminary election results on Sept. 27, assuming there are no recounts, and a ballot position drawing would occur at the earliest on Sept. 28. Elections officials can only send ballot information over to their printer after the drawing and would also need to proofread the ballots which Tavares said would be completed no sooner than Oct. 7.
"That leaves us with about three weeks to mail ballots to voters and for them to get it back to the election department in enough time to be counted for the general election," Tavares said last week.