EDITOR'S NOTE: At press time for the Townsman, the election date was not set. Local leaders were awaiting a ruling from state officials or a court, after the Andover Select Board asked to postpone the election from its scheduled date of March 24. When the ruling is made, the election date will appear at andovertownsman.com and eagleteribune.com, and in a print edition of The Eagle-Tribune.
It is unclear when voters will go to the polls for the town election — March 24 as scheduled, or at a later date because of coronavirus concerns.
In an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, the Select Board voted unanimously at a special meeting Monday night to postpone the election. It's up to the state whether the postponement happens.
"A postponement of the election, though not ideal, is the safest choice for both the voters of Andover and the staff who work so hard to make sure our elections go well," said Select Board member Dan Koh.
Voters are scheduled to go to the polls Tuesday, March 24. The Select Board's decision contains four methods that can be taken to accomplish a postponement.
The first option requests a written order from Gov. Charlie Baker stating that postponement is consistent with his executive order made Sunday night, which prohibits gatherings of 25 people or more.
A second method is a request for the governor and Legislature to pass legislation proposed by the secretary of state giving communities authority to make such postponements.
A third method authorizes the town manager to file court action.
The final option, called a Governor’s Bill, asks Baker to file legislation on the Select Board’s behalf.
Town Clerk Austin Simko said the town of Wellesley postponed its election by using the third method. This method is often used in the event of snowstorms.
The method Wellesley used could not be pursued by Andover on Tuesday because the state’s courts were closed Monday and Tuesday.
Until approval of the motion is given by the governor or the courts, the election is scheduled for March 24. Select Board member Alex Vispoli said the decision on postponement is likely to come Wednesday from state officials.
“It’s a little bit of a nuanced question but we are trying to communicate it clearly,” Simko said. “The election is scheduled for March 24 and that has not changed, but we have taken these actions to try to get a postponement so it’s almost like continue to get ready to vote or behave as you would.”