2012 proved a heavy voter registration year in each of Northern Berkshire's three most populous communities, leading local town and city clerks to predict a strong turnout in Tuesday's presidential election.
North Adams, Adams and Williamstown each added over 400 new voters to the rolls and saw increases in absentee voting, while some of Northern Berkshire's smaller communities also reported gains, including Cheshire, Clarksburg and Hancock.
North Adams City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau said more than 400 have already cast absentee ballots, and she guessed that voter participation would be at or above 67 percent.
"Since the primary in August, we've picked up over 400 [new registrations]," Gomeau said Friday. "A good amount of these were college students. I'm thinking it's an indication we should have a very busy election."
City voter participation was 66 percent in 2008.
Williamstown Town Clerk Mary Kennedy thought participation would be over 85 percent, while the town claimed nearly 500 new voters -- the majority, again, students. In addition, 540 absentee ballots have been cast.
"I had a big voter increase," Kennedy said. " ... Now, with registration available online, it can be easier for a lot of people."
In Adams, roughly 600 new voters "nearly doubled" what the town typically sees for a presidential election, said Town Clerk Hailey Meczywor.
Other figures stand out as well. Clarksburg Town Clerk Carol
Voters will be faced with a number of races and ballot questions to weigh in on.
State polls consistently reflect a 20- or even 30-point lead for President Barack Obama over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and two others, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green-Rainbow candidate Jill Stein.
Tuesday's Senate race looks to remain a dog fight to the end. Incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren's match-up is among the nation's closest and unquestionably is the most expensive, with both sides having tallied up $68 million. According to aggregate polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, Warren held a 4.5 percent edge as of Oct. 21.
Another race, for Governor's Council for the 8th District, features a matchup between Democrat Michael Albano and Republican Michael Franco.
Also on the ballot but running unopposed are:
* Democrat Richard E. Neal for First District Representative in Congress.
* Democrat Benjamin B. Downing for Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden district Senator in General Court.
* Democrat Gailanne M. Cariddi for First Berkshire District Representative in General Court.
* Deborah S. Capeless for Berkshire County Clerk of Courts.
* Frances T. Brooks for Berkshire Northern District Register of Deeds.
Tuesday's ballot also features three questions.
Question 2, the Death with Dignity Act, would allow a terminally ill person to request life-ending medication. A topic of frequent debate, assisted suicide is legal in Oregon, Montana and Washington, along with much of Europe.
Question 3 stands to legalize the use of medical marijuana by patients in the state, allowing in-state dispensaries to be established and certain qualifying patients to grow the plant for personal use at their homes. Public Policy Polling found 58 percent of residents supporting Question 3 back in August.
Question 1, the Right to Repair initiative, centers on making diagnostic and repair information usually only available to dealers open to vehicle owners as well. The question essentially has become a dead issue, with those on both sides of the debate having reached a legislative compromise. Both sides are urging a no vote to avoid confusion should the measure pass.
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Where to vote
Voting hours in all communities are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Adams: Department of Public Works garage, 92 North Summer St.
Cheshire: Senior Center, 119 School St.
Clarksburg: Clarksburg Senior Center, 712 West Cross Road
Florida: Town Office, 379 Mohawk Trail
Hancock: Hancock School, 3080 Hancock Road
New Ashford: Town Hall, 199 Mallory Road
North Adams: Wards 1, 2, 3 and 5 at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish Center, 12 Union St.; Ward 4 at Greylock School on Phelps Avenue
Savoy: Town Hall/Senior Center, 720 Main Road
Williamstown: Williamstown Elementary School, 115 Church St.