I have voted in every Presidential election since I’ve turned 18 years old but this year I participated in early voting for the first time. I have to compliment Mayor Marty Walsh, The Boston Red Sox and all the volunteers at Fenway Park for how they managed early voting last weekend. According to Boston’s public radio station, WBUR-FM, 4,000 people voted there.
I wanted to vote early and the opportunity to do this at Fenway Park was just too tempting. Early voting was available at Fenway Park last Saturday and Sunday and turnout was through the roof. When I arrived at Fenway Park just prior to the polls opening, the line nearly wrapped around the entire ballpark. I was unsure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to vote in less than 1 hour despite the hundreds of people queuing.
There is a common saying in Boston that “Fenway is where I pray”, and I did although this time my prayers were not focused on the Red Sox. My prayer went something like this, “I hope Donald Trump loses by historic proportions and the Republican party loses seats in the US House of Representatives as well as their control of the US Senate. Lastly, I prayed Americans will not look away after November 3rd and will remain engaged to hold our politicians accountable for their actions, because elections matter.“
I’m going to ask readers of this blog who live in Massachusetts to share this information to raise awareness about the upcoming election and voting options that make it easier to participate in this process. Registered voters in Massachusetts do not have to wait until Tuesday, November 3rd and can vote early from October 17 through October 30.
ABOUT EARLY VOTING: Boston City Hall is the main early voting polling location for the city and it will be open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and on Tuesday and Thursday, City Hall will remain open until 8 p.m. for early voting. For more information about additional places to vote in Boston visit boston.gov/early-voting. Any registered voter in Boston can vote. You don’t need an excuse or reason to vote early. It is your right so exercise it.
DID YOU APPLY TO VOTE BY MAIL? If you plan to return your ballot in person instead of mailing it, we will have dedicated dropboxes across the City, including two at Boston City Hall. You have until 8 p.m. on Election Day to drop off your ballot. You can also drop off your ballot at any early voting location listed below during the City’s early voting period.
Below are links to early voting locations and the times these places are open in surrounding communities as well as a link for all cities and towns in the state. Please share.
Voting by mail has suddenly become politicized with unfounded claims of voter fraud. At the same time the Postmaster General has been accused of intentionally underfunding the US Post Office and removing mail sorting machines to slowdown mail processing. All of this makes me feel sick to my stomach. I will admit I’ve taken my right to vote as a given, but now I feel like that is being tampered with, and I really don’t like it. Considering our history of setting up barriers to minorities and immigrants to vote, I suppose I’m getting only a taste of what some have had to deal with for generations.
I will admit in the past I’ve taken my right to vote as a given.
I don’t really care who you plan to vote for, but I do hope you will vote. If you have decided to vote by mail, I suggest you vote early. The State of Massachusetts recommends voters submit an application for a November ballot no later than October 20th. You can register online here. It only takes a couple of minutes and is easy to do online. If you know people who plan to vote by mail, follow up and encourage them to vote early (mail your ballot by Tuesday, October 20th if possible). By mailing your vote in two weeks prior to election day it stands a better chance of being tallied on election day.
For those of you in Massachusetts, bookmark this early voting – in person or by mail web page. Additional guidance on voting locations will be updated no later than October 9th. In-person, early voting in Mass. will be held October 17 – 30.
Share this information with anyone who may find this helpful.
Last week I published this post, Plan a New England foliage daytrip this fall. A BosGuy reader from Maine wrote, asking why I snubbed Maine, which also has beautiful fall foliage. The snub was unitentional! Maine was not listed in the USA Today Reader’s Choice poll which inspired my blog post, but I want to make that up to everyone who loves Maine by sharing this post which features Treworgy’s Corn Maze – the longest continually running corn maze in the US.
Checking out a corn maze might be more fun if you’re looking to stretch your legs a bit and enjoy the beautiful fall weather. Also noted in a recent survey of best corn mazes was the Great Vermont Corn Maze in Danville, VT.
If those drives are a bit longer than you would like (let’s face it they are waaaay up north), New England Foliage has recently published a list of the Best Corn Mazes in New England.
If you have any recommendations based on past visits please share in the comments section.
I believe that voting is a civic responsibility incumbent upon all of us. However, voting during a pandemic can be tricky so I apprerciate that Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill into law earlier this month, allowing all registered voters in Massachusetts to vote by mail in the primary and general elections this fall.
How to vote by mail in Massachusetts
Voting by mail in Massachusetts is easy, requiring you to do the following:
2 – Send the ballot back via postal delivery, email or fax. For the Sept. 1 State Primary, your application must arrive at your local election office by Aug. 26 and for the national election on Nov. 3 it must arrive by Oct. 28.
Note: Your signature must be visible and everything legible and complete to ensure your ballot is not disqualified.
One City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201
Massachusetts legislature is currently considering an important bill that will help provide relief for the arts and culture sector in Massachusetts, which includes organizations large and small that enrich our life and need your legislators support to provide funding for artists, local museums as well as students to gain access and experiences from our local arts and cultural organizations.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Write or call your legislators at the State House today to voice your support for H.4879, An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth.
In an age where many feel like access to a quality education is only available to the wealthiest it isn’t really surpirsing that many have developed a distrust of our education system. Over the past 20 years we’ve seen this distrust extend to people who are highly educated and articulate. So perhaps I’m bucking the trend here bragging about Massachusetts recent rankings in US News & World Report of the best high schools in the nation; half of Massachusetts’ high schools are in the top quarter of the national rankings — the highest proportion of any state.
I recognize that there are significant disparities in Massachusetts public education system; those raised in affluent communities absolutely have advantages children in poorer communities do not. However, regardless of party affiliation in this state, there is a genuine commitment to investing in education and it is that consensus that I think helps drives Massachusetts ranking year after year. It is my hope that the “war on education” in our politics and society will stop. Bravo Massachusetts on continuing to excel and your commitment to public education. There is definitely room to improve and addressing inequality in our system ranks fairly high on that list, but kudos for being a leader here.
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles now provides drivers with a third gender option to choose from. The option, “X,” is available for people to select who don’t identify as male or female.
This past Tuesday, during Transgender Awareness Week, Massachusetts state registry of motor vehicles (RMV) started offering residents a non-binary gender designation option for their driver’s licenses and ID cards. This was done as part of a system upgrade at the RMV and makes Massachusetts one of approximately a dozen states in the United States to recognize a third, non binary gender.
Almost on cue Massachusetts GOP Chairman Jim Lyons called this insane and railed against the change. I can appreciate there are people who’s heads spin at the idea of non-binary, but I don’t understand the need to make sure their point of view supersedes others or how decisions like this by the State of Massachusetts impact Mr. Lyons and those who agree with him. It seems like the same failed logic that was applied to opposing same sex marriages.
15 Years ago today Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to legalize same sex marriage. Conservatives said Mass. was making a mockery of marriage, yet this state still has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country.
To all those who helped bring about this change here in Massachusetts and elsewhere, congratulations. When Massachusetts legalized same sex marriage they set in motion and made possible the landmark Supreme Court case, Obergefell v Hodges. Make no mistake, same sex marriage would eventually have become legal even if , but I’m particularly proud of the role my home state played in forcing the issue. Below I’ve included an excerpt from that historic ruling, majority opinion that was written by State Supreme Court Justice, Margaret Marshall, which took place the year before. It still moves me today to read it.
Congratulations to all those couples celebrating their 15th anniversary.
On Monday, December 10th, Massachusetts Dept of Transportation will hold a public hearing on the North South Rail Link, sharing public comments received, the draft report and cost estimation. Long-time residents of Boston may recall, linking both North and South Station was initially part of the “Big Dig” but was later scrapped after poor management of the project led to cost overruns and ridiculous delays.
Mass DOT Public Hearing: North South Rail Link project
Monday, December 10th 5PM – 8PM
10 Park Plaza, 2nd Floor, Conference Rooms 2 & 3
For those unfamiliar with the project, the North South Rail Link (NSRL) project would connect the MBTA commuter rail networks (South Station and North Station) into one regional system through the construction and operation of a rail tunnel through Downtown Boston. This tunnel would enable through-running of MBTA Commuter Rail and Amtrak trains, increasing system coverage, capacity, and ridership.
North South Rail Link Feasibility Reassessment Draft Final Report
I would like to see any project that links these two commuter hubs with a direct link via the MBTA subway system as well, providing a better and more direct connection for people who use the subway.
If interested, you can download and read the entire draft final report here.
A jaw-dropping 16% of 18- to 24-year olds in Massachusetts identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or something else, according to researchers from Boston Indicators, part of the Boston Foundation and the Fenway Institute, part of Fenway Health. The LGBT community composes roughly 5% of the state’s population overall, making the commonwealth the “second gayest” state in the country behind Vermont, according to the report.
Source: Gallup Daily Tracking Survey. The Williams Institute. UCLA.
Despite being a leader in gay rights for more than four decades, LGBTQ youth still face some daunting hurdles. The report points out that nearly half of lesbian, gay or bisexual youth in our state have considered suicide as compared to 11% of their non-LGB peers. The report delves into much more detail about the strides we’ve made and the challenges that remain. Read the full report here, Equality and Equity Advancing the LGBT Community in Massachusetts.
Considering the current political climate in the US it was interesting to see that earlier this week it was announced that Massachusetts schools will be able to try a new curriculum with LGBTQ-themed history, English and health this fall.
The curriculum, developed by a team of teachers with Massachusetts Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students and the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, will be released this summer, and is expected to feature lessons on the 1969 Stonewall Riots and writings by gay and lesbian authors. It will also feature lessons like how Nick Carraway’s love for Jay Gatsby may have influenced themes in “The Great Gatsby.”
Allen Ginsberg on the left was was an American poet, philosopher, and writer. He is considered to be one of the leading figures of both the Beat Generation
The units are optional and the decisions of what will be included will be made at the local level. In case you missed it you can read the full article about this interesting change (for the better IMHO) in the Boston Herald article.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) recently released a report to help the region and surrounding communities plan for the future, but since the future cannot be predicted with certainty they have two different scenarios based on different assumptions. One projection, called the “Status Quo” assumes a continuation of current trends and a second projection called “Stronger Region” explores how changing trends could result in a higher population growth, more demand for housing and a substantially larger workforce. The projections provide a window into what the region’s future might look like.
Click on maps to enlarge || Source: MAPC Analysis
Above is a side-by-side comparison of projected population changes under both scenarios. However, Boston’s population has increased by nearly 50,000 people (in 2010 the city’s population was 618,000 and in 2016 it increased to approximately 667,137) so perhaps their projections need to be revised. Under the “Stronger Region” projection it suggests the area could gain 90k+ by 2030 but the current trajectory suggests that could be achieved by 2023; although this doesn’t take into account a general population drain that may be happening in surrounding communities. Key findings include the following:
Slow growth is in store if the region keeps losing population to other states. Therefore attracting more young people is critical to growing the region’s
New housing demand will outpace population growth due to declining household size. Many signs point to the resurgence of urban
Under either scenario, the number of school-age children in the region and most municipalities peaked in 2000 and is likely to decline over the coming decades.
According to US Census data, the city of Boston had a population of 618,000 people in 2010, that increased to approximately 667,137 in 2016. The Greater Boston area is home to an estimated 4.7 million, making it the 10th largest metropolitan area in the United States.
Changes were recently made to Massachusetts recreational marijuana bill which was voted into law last November through a ballot initiative that was years in the making. WBUR shared some key points that those interested in keeping marijuana safe and legal in the state should know.
1 – The law calls for marijuana to have a maximum tax rate of 20 percent, up from a maximum 12 percent rate outlined in the voter-passed ballot question. While this is more than the ballot initiative outlined it is in line with other states that are selling marijuana for recreational use.
2 – The Cannabis Control Commission was originally outlined as a three-person panel, with its members all appointed by the state treasurer. Now, it’s five members, and the governor and the attorney general have appointment authority as well. The three officials have to select these five commissioners by Sept. 1st.
3 – The compromise bill makes no changes to the existing law governing the home cultivation of cannabis plants for personal use. Every adult over 21 can grow up to six plants in their home, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.
4 – Although marijuana has been legal for adults in Massachusetts since December, there are no retail establishments selling recreational pot. That changes July 1, 2018, when shops can open.
5 – Perhaps the most controversial change is changes to the process by which a city or town in Massachusetts can ban forthcoming retail marijuana shops. The original law said the decision rested with an individual community’s voters, but this bill says if your municipality voted for marijuana on November’s ballot measure, a question of banning or limiting pot businesses has to be put to a voter referendum. If your town or city voted against marijuana, then the decision rests with the local governing authority, like a city council or board of selectmen.
For the record more than 60% of voters in Boston and approximately 70% of voters in Cambridge and Somerville voted to legalize marijuana so this issue hopefully won’t be held up by our Mayor or selectmen.