By Douglas Moser email@example.com
---- — Area city and town clerks offices are grappling with thousands of absentee ballots in the last week before the election, though the number is about on pace with 2008, the clerks said.
Absentee ballots are available until noon today at city or town hall and are accepted as long as they are handed in or received at city or town halls by tomorrow.
“Given the number of requests to date for 2012, it appears we may be in the same range or slightly higher for absentee ballot requests,” William Maloney, the Lawrence City Clerk, said. His office has received about 900 requests for absentee ballots as of Thursday, compared with 975 requests for 2008.
In Methuen, the requests are slightly ahead of the last presidential election, said city Clerk Christine Touma-Conway. As of Thursday, her office received 1,297 requests for absentee ballots, up from a total of 1,284 in 2008.
Touma-Conway said her office is struggling to catch up after being closed for two days last week because of Hurricane Sandy.
Haverhill’s clerk’s office has gotten 1,610 requests, including 50 they just sent out Friday to citizens living in Europe or serving overseas in the military, said Clerk Peggy Toomey. In 2008, they received 1,581 requests.
“There are lines in the office today with people voting,” she said Friday.
The Andovers each have several thousand requests for ballots.
In North Andover, Town Clerk Joyce Bradshaw said her office has gotten more than 2,000 requests this year, a bit higher than 2008. On Tuesday, she and her employees worked while a generator supplied electricity until service could be restored. The weather, she said, is one reason her office has reached out to people suggesting they vote absentee.
“We’ve told people, especially if they work out of town, if you work in Boston and there’s an issue with traffic, you may not get home in time,” she said. “We do outreach so people have the chance to vote.”
Andover town Clerk Larry Murphy said his office has more than 2,300 requests for ballots, which is about the same as 2008. “It has been very steady, a steady line at the counter, and we’re getting a dozen a day,” he said.
According to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office, a voter may request an absentee ballot of he or she will be out of town on election day, if he or she has a disability that prevents in-person voting and/or if he or she cannot vote at the polls because of religious beliefs.
Applications for absentee ballots are available until noon the day before the election, but they should be submitted early if the ballot must be mailed. Voters can apply for and receive their ballots at their town or city hall, and can vote immediately as well. Mailed ballots are accepted as long as they are received by election day, with the exception of ballots from overseas, which will be accepted if they are postmarked by election day.
Absentee ballots must be returned to an elections official in the clerk’s office and are not accepted at polling places, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office.
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