The Town Clerk is authorized by state law to administer elections and elections-related processes and functions. There also are three Registrars of Voters who are appointed by the Board of Selectmen, each serving a three-year term.
The Town Clerk administers the day-to-day process for elections.
General Duties: The Northfield Town Clerk administers nomination and election processes, registers voters, conducts the annual municipal census and certifies applications and documents for veterans’ bonuses. The Town Clerk also verifies residences for state colleges and universities, travel certificates and social security administration. The Town Clerk prepares and provides all statistics on elections and census, and general assistance for citizens, political parties and members of the press.
Elections Administration: The Northfield Town Clerk conducts all presidential primaries, state primaries, and state and presidential elections. The Town Clerk also conducts the Annual Town Election. The responsibilities of the Town Clerk include: voter registration; supplying nomination papers for candidates, initiatives and referenda; certification of signatures on all nomination papers and petitions; printing ballots for Town elections; maintenance of elections equipment; supervision of poll workers; tallying elections results; and maintaining and preserving the records of the election.
List of Voters: The Town Clerk maintains the voters roll for Northfield. The Town Clerk endeavors to maintain as accurate a list as possible for use at the polls on Election Day. Voters are removed from the voters list because of death or a move outside of the Town and voters are added to the list as they register. In addition, all voters who change party affiliation are processed by the Town Clerk.
Voter Registration: Voter registration in Northfield has never been easier than it is today. You may visit the Town Clerk Office in Town Hall and complete a voter registration form in person. Or, you may obtain a mail-in voter registration form from the Northfield Public Library, United States Post Offices and various other locations throughout the state. Mail-in forms also may be obtained by calling the State Elections Division at (800) 462-VOTE. In addition, the state registries of motor vehicles, social service agencies and military recruitment offices provide voter registration services.
Any person who is a Massachusetts resident, a United States citizen and will be eighteen years old as of the next election is eligible to register to vote. You do not need a driver’s license or any other form of identification to register to vote in person. However, when you sign the registration form, you must attest, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that you are legally eligible to register and that the information you provide is accurate and truthful. The penalty for fraudulent registration increased recently to a fine of ten thousand dollars or imprisonment for up to five years, or both.
When you register, you may choose to become a member of a political party, select a designation for a political organization that has not achieved party status in the state or choose to become an "unenrolled" voter (commonly referred to as "independent"). Remember that if you register in a party or select a political organization designation, in a primary election you only may receive a ballot for that party. Unenrolled voters may request any ballot in a primary election.
You will remain on the list of voters so long as you vote regularly and complete and return the annual municipal census. If you move to another city or town, you must re-register in your new community.
Registration Deadlines: Be aware that there are voter registration deadlines. You must register to vote at least twenty days before any Annual Town Meeting and Election. You must register to vote at least twenty days before any Town or State election or the Presidential Primary.
The Annual Municipal Census: The Town Clerk conducts the annual census of Northfield’s households and publishes the results in a printed residents’ list (commonly known as the "Street List"). The publication contains an alphabetical-numerical list of all residents seventeen and older. The Town Clerk also prepares a non-public list of persons age three and older for the Pioneer Regional School District.
Nomination and Petition Papers: The first step to running for office or placing a question on the ballot is to gather the required number of signatures of registered voters on petition papers. (A person may not have to complete nomination papers if he/she is nominated through the Town Caucus Process. Please see the Town Clerk for specific details.) The number of signatures depends on the office or the type of question. The Town Clerk supplies the petition papers.
Candidates or question proponents must gather the required number of signatures on the petition papers supplied by the Town Clerk. Once the signatures are gathered, the petition papers are submitted to the Town Clerk for certification. The Town Clerk will certify the signature of any registered Northfield voter. (If the paper is for the nomination of a candidate for a party primary, the signatures of voters enrolled in another political party or political designation will not be counted.) If the required number of signatures is certified, the candidate or question will appear on the ballot.
Campaign and Political Finance Filings: State law requires an accounting of all money received or spent in the course of a political campaign.
In Northfield, the Town Clerk serves as the Town’s Campaign and Political Finance Director for all local campaigns. As a result, the financial disclosure statements of candidate and ballot question committees must be filed with the Town Clerk and maintained for public inspection.
The financial disclosure statements must be on forms prescribed by the Town Clerk and include the name of the candidate or ballot question committee; the address of the committee; the committee’s chairman and treasurer; an accounting of all contributions received; and a listing of all individuals who contributed over a prescribed amount. The statements also must include an accounting of all campaign expenditures.
The statements, which are filed periodically throughout the year, are reviewed and audited by the Town Clerk. The filing deadlines for Town candidates or questions are: the eighth day before and thirty days after an Annual Town Election or Special Town Election and the twentieth day of January, with an accounting of all required information through December 31 of the preceding year.
Voting in Northfield:
Poll Location: Northfield Town Hall, 69 Main Street
The hours of polling for each election will be posted on the Town's website and announced in the newspapers.
When you approach the check-in table, first tell the poll worker the name of the street where you live, then the number of your residence and finally your name. As the voters list is arranged by street, this is the quickest way to receive your ballot and keep any lines moving.
In a primary election, voters who are registered in a political party may only obtain a ballot for that party. If you are an "unenrolled voter" (commonly referred to as an "independent voter"), you may request the ballot of any party participating in the primary election.
If your name does not appear on the list of voters, the poll worker will contact the Town Clerk to determine if your voter status.
If you are not on any list in the Town, but believe you registered, you may request a "provisional" ballot. The provisional ballot allows you to cast your vote. The provisional ballot will be counted if it is determined the voter is registered in Northfield. The Registrars of Voters will review each provisional ballot to determine if the votes should be counted.
Once you receive a ballot, you cast your votes in the privacy of the voting booth. You may vote for the choices available on the ballot or, if you prefer, write-in the name of a candidate in the space provided on the ballot. If you make an error in marking your ballot, you must return it to the poll worker to have it marked as "spoiled". Then you may receive a new ballot. If you are disabled and need assistance, someone who can provide the necessary assistance may accompany you. Or, you can request a poll worker to provide you with confidential, nonpartisan help. When you have finished voting, you must proceed to the checkout table and again state the street where you live, the number of your residence and your name. (The check-in/check-out procedure allows for a full accounting of all ballots to reduce the chance of fraud.) After you have checked-out, you deposit your ballot in the ballot box.
Prohibited Activities: State law prohibits the display of political paraphernalia within 150 feet of the entrance to the polling location. Signs, stickers and even lapel buttons are not permitted within this restricted zone.
Absentee Voting in Northfield: Voters who are unable to vote on Election Day because of physical disability, religious beliefs or travel may vote by absentee ballot. State law limits the availability of absentee ballots to the three listed circumstances only. Absentee ballots are not available for mere inconvenience, or because of ordinary commuting-related difficulties. If you will be absent from Northfield for an extended period of time, you may submit a single application for all elections occurring within the year the application is filed.
Applications for absentee ballots may be obtained from the Town Clerk or the Office of the Secretary of State. Applications may be submitted in person or by mail. The voter, or a "family member" (father, mother, sister, brother, son, daughter, grandparent, grandchild, a spouse or person residing in the same household, in-laws, adopting parent or adopted child, stepparent or stepchild, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew), may submit an application. All absentee ballot application must be signed by the voter or a family member under the penalty of perjury before an absentee ballot will be made available.
In a primary election, a voter who is not registered in a political party must specify the ballot of the party of choice in the application. You will not become registered in a party because of your participation in a state primary. In the March presidential primary, however, a voter temporarily becomes a member of the party for which a ballot is chosen. While your registration status reverts automatically to unenrolled (independent), your temporary enrollment in the party may affect your ability to run as a party candidate in the near future.
The Town Clerk must receive applications for absentee ballots before 12:00 noon the day before an election. (A voter who is admitted to a health care facility after noon of the fifth day before an election may apply for a ballot up until the close of the polls and may request to have the ballot delivered.) Absentee ballots generally are available three weeks before an election.
Permanently Disabled Voters: A voter who is permanently disabled need not submit a request for an absentee ballot every election. If such a voter submits a note from a registered physician indicating that he is disabled permanently, the Town Clerk will send an application for an absentee ballot twenty-eight days before every election. The application will be as complete as the Town Clerk can make it, and the voter in most cases only will have to sign the application and return it. Upon the Town Clerk’s receipt of the signed application, the voter will be sent an absentee ballot.
In the event that the Town Clerk cannot find the name of a voter requesting an absentee ballot, the voter must be sent a provisional absentee ballot with a letter explaining the reason and the procedure.
If the voter submits the application in person, he may obtain the ballot (call first to see if it is available) and vote over-the-counter. If the ballot is not available, it will be sent to the voter when available. When the absentee ballot application is received by the Town Clerk through the mail, the ballot will be sent by mail to the voter. Ballots may be returned by mail, or in person. The voter must sign the ballot envelope. If the voter is unable to sign, an assisting person may do so.
Specially Qualified Voters: In addition to registered voters, certain "specially qualified voters" may vote by absentee ballot. A "specially qualified voter" is a person who is a Massachusetts citizen, living outside of the United States, who is at least eighteen years old and whose last residence in the United States was Massachusetts. You also may be a "specially qualified voter" if you are otherwise eligible to be a registered voter and your present domicile (a place where you live and plan to remain) is Massachusetts and you are: out of the Town because you are in the active service of the armed forces or merchant marine of the United States, or a spouse or dependent of such person; absent from the Commonwealth; or confined in a correctional facility or jail except if by reason of a felony conviction.
Return of Ballots: In general, absentee ballots must be received before the polls close to be counted. However, absentee ballots for the state general election completed outside the United States will be counted if received by 5:00 p.m. on the tenth day following the election. This exception does not apply to Northfield Town elections or state primaries.
A listing of all voters who obtained absentee ballots is sent to the poll locations to prevent such a voter from voting a second time.
If the Town Clerk learns that an absentee voter has died before the election, that ballot will not be counted.