Wareham voters favor Kennedy, in contrast to state

Pandemic-proof voting runs smoothly
Sep 1, 2020

About 31 percent of Wareham’s voters participated in the September 1 primary election. The only contested races on the ballot were for the nominees for senator.

In 2018, only 17 percent of Wareham voters participated in the State Primary.

Perhaps surprisingly, more voters participated in Tuesday’s State Primary than in this spring’s Presidential Primary. A total of 5,154 voters participated in the State Primary — 236 more than voted in the spring.

During the 2016 Presidential Election, 79 percent of registered voters in Wareham weighed in.

During this election, 385 people voted early in person. The town mailed 286 absentee ballots and 3,824 early voting ballots to residents’ homes, although it is unclear how many were returned. All early and absentee ballots were counted during the day on Tuesday.

Town Clerk Michele Bissonnette put in place a number of procedures to keep voters and poll workers safe throughout the election, most of which will remain in place for the Presidential Election in November.

Poll workers stay behind a plexiglass shield, and most of the voting booths are closed to enforce social distancing.

After each voter, a poll workers cleaned the sides of the booth and the desk. Pens were sanitized between voters.

And there were tools to seal the ballots without having to lick anything during early voting. 

During early voting and during the election, only eight voters were allowed in the polling place at a time.

All voters had to wear a face covering. Those who didn’t want to use provided pens and a voting booth could bring a blue or black ink Sharpie or Paper Mate Flair pen and a clipboard or book on which to fill out the ballot. 

Six feet of social distancing were maintained between oneself and those not from one’s household.

During the primary, poll workers were able to use Poll Pads -- modified iPads — to check in voters for the first time instead of the traditional clipboard with a printed-out list of the voter rolls.

The system is entirely offline and very secure, Bissonnette said. 

When poll workers enter in a name, a list of voters pops up that shows the voters’ status for the current election.

If the voter has requested an absentee ballot, returned a mail-in ballot, or voted in person, that is shown on the screen. 

The Poll Pads have only been approved by the state for this election due to the pandemic, but Bissonnette is hopeful they will become the norm for future elections, including the Presidential Election.

On the Democratic ticket, incumbent Ed Markey ran against current congressman Joe Kennedy III.

While the state overall was called for Markey, Wareham voters favored Kennedy, who received 45% of the Democratic vote to Markey’s 30%. 
Markey has been a US senator for Massachusetts since 2013 and a US representative since 1976. He helped author the Green New Deal, a policy proposal addressing climate change and economic inequality, and co-sponsored Medicare for All, a bill that would create a universal single-payer health care system — policies also supported by Kennedy. 

Kennedy is a son of former US Representative Joseph Kennedy II and has been a US representative for Massachusetts’ fourth congressional district since 2013, when he took the seat after former representative Barney Frank retired. 

In the Republican primary, Kevin O’Connor won 14.6% of votes to Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai’s 9.6%.

According to his campaign website, O’Connor is an attorney and longstanding member of the legal community in Massachusetts, serving on the executive committee for the Boston Bar Association Council and holding a number of other roles with the association.

Ayyadurai holds a Ph.D in biological engineering from MIT and claims to have invented email, claims that have been largely discredited. He ran against Elizabeth Warren as an independent in the US Senate race in 2018, earning 3.4% of the vote. He advocates for coronavirus to be treated with vitamin supplements. Ayyadurai is also the ex-husband of actress Fran Drescher.

There were also several uncontested primary races on the ballot.

Incumbent state Senator Marc Pacheco won 62.3 percent of the Democratic vote.

Incumbent congressman Bill Keating won 64.8 percent of the Democratic vote. On the Republican ballot, Helen Brady won 20.5 percent of the vote for that position.

Incumbent Republican State Representative Susan Williams Gifford won 21.8 percent of the Republican vote. No Democratic candidate ran for that seat.