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Manugian, Pine Win Reelection; Write-In Campaign By Peter Cunningham Falls Short

Voter turnout low in first election held under COVID-19 restrictions.
by Robert Stewart
Incumbent members of the Select Board Alison Manugian and Rebecca Pine won reelection to their boards at town elections this past Tuesday, June 9. A strong write-in campaign by former Select Board member Peter Cunningham made an otherwise uncontested slate of offices interesting. Preliminary results released by the Town Clerks Office show that Manugian received 809 votes and Pine received 749 votes. Cunningham, whose name did not appear on the ballot, won 640 votes in a write-in effort.
     Cunningham’s write-in campaign created tight a race in Precincts One (West Groton) and Two (Lost Lake) between Cunningham and Pine. In Precinct One, there was a 14 vote difference and in Precinct Two, a seven vote difference. It was in Precinct Three (Groton Center) where Pine recorded a solid majority and comfortably carried her to reelection. Precinct Three also recorded the highest turnout of voters in comparison to Precincts One and Two.
     Town Clerk Mike Bouchard reports that 1311 voters went to the polls out of 8,468 registered voters in town or a 15.5 percent turnout. While turnout tends to be relatively low in town elections, Bouchard characterized this year’s turnout as lower than usual.
     This year’s town election presented unique challenges for the Town Clerk’s Office as it had to be held under different restrictions and protocols as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first election of the year held in town was the Super Tuesday Presidential Primary that occurred just before COVID-129 restrictions were put in place by the state. Bouchard said voters experienced several changes because of the restrictions including requirements to wear face coverings and maintain distancing. Voting booths were cleaned after every use. In keeping with state recommendations on voting, Bouchard noted that
the town reduced the length of polling hours from 12 hours (7 am to 7 pm) to six hours (1 pm to 7 pm) and also reduced the number voting booths.
     According to Bouchard, the restrictions caused some wait times for voters despite the low turnout. The wait times also occurred despite the fact that only 561 voters actually went to the polls. The other 750 voters voted by absentee ballot.                   According to figures released by Bouchard, of the 1311 registered voters who voted, 750 did so by absentee ballot, nearly 60 percent of the total votes cast.
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