8 min readBy Published On: November 3rd, 2020Categories: News0 Comments on Recap of Mayor Walsh’s Press Briefing from 11/2

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Monday, November 2, 2020

COVID-19 case numbers:

  • Today (Monday) in Massachusetts: 725 new confirmed cases, for a total of 156,385 confirmed cases. There were 9 new deaths, for a total of 9,797. 

  • On Monday in Boston: 118 new cases, for a total of 21,206. There were five new deaths since Friday, bringing the total to 871 

  • For the week ending on Monday, October 26, the average number of Boston residents who tested positive each day was 123, up from 109 in the previous week. The positive test rate remained at 7.8%. 

Importance of remaining vigilant and getting tested: 

  • The Mayor noted that with the election happening, it may be hard to focus on COVID-19, but “the virus doesn’t take a week off for the election, and neither should we.” 

  • He asked Bostonians to remain vigilant about wearing masks and face coverings, washing our hands, keeping physical distance, and avoiding gatherings, especially parties. 

  • He also urged residents to get tested for COVID-19, and provided an update on the new “Get the Test Boston” campaign. So far, 24 employers and organizations have pledged to help and encourage their workers to get tested. 

  • The City has continued to add free testing resources, especially in neighborhoods with higher case rates. This week, we have free testing regardless of symptoms at Jubilee Christian Church in Mattapan and Central Square Park in East Boston. Also, this Tuesday and Friday we have a free site at New Hope Baptist Church on River St. in Hyde Park. 

  • In all, we have more than 30 testing sites in the city. Locations, hours, and contact information are available on the City’s map of testing sites

Election updates: 

  • The Mayor noted that tomorrow’s election is historic for more than one reason, and there has been tremendous interest in voting early and voting safely. He restated the City’s commitment to making sure voting is safe and accessible, and doing whatever it takes to protect residents’ rights and safe access to the ballot box.

  • He lauded Boston residents’ commitment to voting and gave an update on the numbers for early in-person voting and voting by mail.  

  • Nearly 432,000 Bostonians are registered to vote in this election, up from 415,500 in 2016. 

  • During the two-week Early Voting period, 55,716 people cast their ballots in person. In addition, as of yesterday, November 1, 103,268 Bostonians have submitted mail-in ballots. 

  • In total, 159,000 Bostonians have cast ballots in this election already. That’s over 36.5% turnout before Election Day. By comparison, we had 66.75% total turnout in the 2016 election. 

  • The Mayor thanked Elections Commissioner Eneida Tavares, our Elections staff, and all the volunteers from City departments and Boston communities. He noted that they have been working long hours under unique circumstances, including processing over 192,000 mail-in ballot requests, facilitating a record number of early votes, and installing and maintaining dropboxes. They continue to work hard counting ballots and preparing polling locations.

How to vote:

  • The Mayor urged all registered voters who have not yet voted to make a plan now to vote.  

  • If you have a mail-in ballot and have not returned it yet, you should complete it today and place it in one of our 17 dropboxes that are open through 8 p.m. on election night on Tuesday. A map of dropbox locations is available at the Elections Department web page.

  • The City will accept ballots that arrive in the mail by Friday, if they are postmarked by tomorrow (Tuesday November 3). But the Mayor urged voters to use a dropbox to ensure timely submission of their ballot. 

  • He reminded residents that you cannot submit a mail-in ballot at an in-person polling site tomorrow. If you bring your mail-in ballot, you will be asked to vote in person, and the poll workers will help ensure your mail-in ballot is discarded properly. 

  • On Election Day the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. We have 255 precincts in the City of Boston and, in the vast majority, you will vote at your usual location. Twenty polls that were in senior buildings or other sensitive locations have been moved to nearby sites. 

  • Ballots will be available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese. Poll workers will be available to help speakers of those languages, as well as Haitian Creole, Cabo Verdean, Russian, and Portuguese. 

  • To find your polling place or with any other questions or concerns, visit boston.gov/elections. On Election Day we will have a dedicated voter hotline for any questions or concerns that arise: 617-635-VOTE (8683). 

COVID-19 safety at polling places:

  • The Mayor said every in-person polling location is set up to follow COVID safety guidelines, as well as provide access for people with disabilities.  

    • The sites are prepared for physical distancing with clear signage and floor markings. 

    • All poll workers are issued PPE, including face shields, masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer. 

    • Cleaning will take place at each site several times throughout the day. 

    • When you go to vote, remember to wear a mask or a well-made face covering, and make sure it’s covering both your mouth and nose. 

    • And please: remember to be respectful and patient with poll workers and volunteers, who are trained and dedicated individuals. 

Voter safety and election integrity:

  • The Mayor asserted that the Administration has always treated elections with the utmost seriousness, following strict protocols to protect the integrity of your vote and our democratic process. 

  • As in every election, a police officer will be stationed at every polling location to protect the ability of residents to exercise their rights. 

  • The City is monitoring conversations across the country about the potential for voter intimidation at the polls. 

  • The Mayor said we do not have any information about a threat in Boston, but added that voter intimidation is against the law and won’t be tolerated. 

Post-election safety:

  • The Mayor acknowledged the heightened tension around this election, especially in regard to the presidential vote. 

  • Because of COVID, he pointed out, the process has been different and more challenging. Many jurisdictions, including Boston, will be counting mail-in and absentee ballots for several days. 

  • But, he made clear: mail-in ballots do not fundamentally change the process or cause uncertainty in the result. They are handled like traditional absentee ballots that have always been used to count the votes of military members and others overseas or out of state. 

  • In addition, he said, the process of counting and certifying election results always takes a number of days beyond the election date. Tomorrow night, the City will be posting unofficial results on Boston.gov, as usual, but we won’t have all the mail-in ballots counted for a number of days. Similar processes are taking place nationally. 

  • We should not be surprised if we don’t have a clear national result tomorrow night, or Wednesday morning, or for several days — and this does not mean that the voting process is broken or compromised in any way. 

  • He asked everyone to remain calm during this period, practice self-care, and focus on what we can do here in Boston to set a good example. 

  • The Mayor asked everyone to think through how you will react to the results. There will be strong emotions, he acknowledged, because there’s a lot at stake. But, he said, we must take care of ourselves, our families, and communities, and we must respond peacefully. 

  • Making your voice heard at the ballot box and expressing yourself in public are both protected rights, and the Boston Police Department is there to protect those rights. They will have resources in place to keep the public safe both during the election process and beyond it. 

  • The Mayor asked everyone to respect the right of others to have an opinion, and respect your city and community’s need for safety. He asked those who speak out to do so safely and constructively — while being aware of your surroundings, wearing a mask and social distancing, and communicating respectfully. 

  • He also urged residents to rely only on trusted sources of information. 

    • For information about our election, follow the Secretary of State’s office and our Elections Department

    • For concerns about public safety, listen to what the City and our Public Safety agencies are putting out. 

    • Call 311 if you have concerns, including your own mental health concerns. 

    • Call 911 if you see a dangerous situation.

  • The Mayor urged people not to react to, or amplify, what they see on social media, which can be a source of unfounded rumors and of targeted misinformation designed to sow fear and disrupt the election. He recommended checking anything you read against what is being reported by trusted media outlets. 

  • The Mayor invited Police Commissioner William Gross to elaborate on the public safety preparations for the election and afterward. 

The Mayor concluded with the following comments: 

“The bottom line is that as Bostonians, as Americans, we believe in free and fair elections. Every vote must be counted and the will of the people must prevail. That’s what we believe in Boston and that’s what we are carrying out. We have been in conversation with civil liberties advocates, including the ACLU. We have been in conversation with our immigrant communities about their concerns. We are prepared to support all our residents and protect your rights, whatever happens. This same commitment to free and fair elections is what we must have across our country, and I call on every elected official, at every level of government, to support that fundamental principle of our democracy.”

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