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City Council discusses voting, free speech, political sign restrictions

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By Barbara Taormina

 

REVERE – With November’s General Election looming, the City Council had three pieces of election business on their agenda this week.

The council held a public hearing on repealing the city’s lengthy and detailed ordinance on posting political yard signs that infringe on resident’s First Amendment rights to free speech. The Mass. Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been working with cities and towns that have ordinances regulating political signs without compelling safety reasons. No members of the public spoke in favor or opposition to the proposal.

“I think this is a great amendment,” said Councillor-at-Large Marc Silvestri, who suggested that the right to free speech trumped other issues about political signs. Silvestri did note that some residents are erecting large 4-by-8 billboard-type signs and said maybe a license or permit was warranted for those type of displays.

Ward 3 Councillor Anthony Cogliandro said the political sign question was about accountability. He proposed holding a public meeting with all incumbents and candidates once the ballot is set so they can agree when signs can go up and when they need to come down. Cogliandro also proposed having the Election Department work with the School Department to ensure that there are no staff or students at schools used as polling locations during elections.

During the Preliminary Election, the schools held a professional development day for teachers and as a result parking lots were filled with cars. Several councillors recounted stories of voters who drove to the polls but went home without voting because they couldn’t find a place to park.

“We have one or two elections a year,” said Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo. “We need to do better.”

Revere Election Commissioner Paul Fahey acknowledged parking was a problem but said his department has a good working relationship with the schools. He also said any school business planned for November 7 will take place virtually. Fahey also agreed there needs to be some outreach to voters in Ward 3 who now vote in the high school field house. Some people were confused because the old polling location was outside the superintendent’s office but that was changed three years ago.

The council also voted to approve the city’s early voting schedule. Early voting will take place at City Hall in the City Council Chambers on the following dates:

Saturday, Oct. 21 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 22 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 23 – 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 24 – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 25 – 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 26 – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 28 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 29 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 30 – 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 31 – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 1 – 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 2 – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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