Local polling places -- especially where paper ballots are used -- will be heavily staffed today to handle the expected crush of voters for Election Day.
The polls in Berkshire County and throughout Massachusetts will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
As in 2008, local election officials are bracing for an onslaught at the polls this year, driven by the presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Local election officials expect today’s voter turnout to match the 67 percent of registered voters in the Berkshires’ 32 cities and towns who went to the polls four years ago. The turnout was mainly driven by the battle between Obama and Republican John McCain.
Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin has predicted a 73 percent voter turnout statewide, on par with the turnout in 2008. Galvin said that anyone who’s in line by the time the polls close at 8 p.m. will still be allowed to vote.
Berkshire city and town clerks have beefed up staffing at the polls to ensure the lines move smoothly and the results get posted quickly.
In Williamstown, Town Clerk Mary Courtney Kennedy has boosted the usual number of 12 poll workers to 18, in anticipation of an 80 percent voter turnout.
"I’ll have additional people on hand to direct voters to the correct table," she said. "The town is divided into three precincts, but we all vote in the same location."
Sheffield Town Clerk Felecie Joyce has more than tripled the number of people on hand who will tabulate the votes, compared to the state primary held in September, because the town still uses paper ballots.
"I expect we’ll have an 85 percent turnout, just like the last two presidential elections," said Joyce. "That’s why we’ve increased the number of counters from the usual four to 14."
The potential for a surge in inactive voters at the polls and redistricting prompted Pittsfield City Clerk Linda M. Tyer to increase the number of poll workers from six to seven in each of the city’s 14 precincts.
"Tables will be set aside for inactive voters to fill out forms if they still live in Pittsfield," she said. "People are placed on the inactive list if they have failed to fill out their local census, which is required by the state every year."
Those on the inactive list must bring proof of their name and current address, such as a driver’s license, passport, bank statement or utility bill, in order to vote at their assigned precinct.
Tyer also urged registered voters to double check the precinct in which they reside because the 2010 federal census required Pittsfield to redraw its precinct lines.
Besides the neck-and-neck presidential race, Bay State voters will cast ballots for the hotly contested U.S. Senate seat and three referendum questions.
Locally, the lone state legislative political battle is between Green-Rainbow Party candidate Scott Laugenour and incumbent Democrat William "Smitty" Pignatelli. The two men are vying for the state representative seat in the 4th Berkshire District.
In addition, county voters will help settle the Governor’s Council race in the 8th District.
The only municipal contest on the ballot is a three-way battle for two, four-year terms from Sheffield on the Southern Berkshire Regional School District Committee. Voters in the district’s five towns will be casting ballots in those races.
Doing your duty
* Today is Election Day in Massachusetts.
* Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in all 351 cities and towns.
* At stake for Berkshire County voters are the races for president, U.S Senate, Governor’s Council, three statewide ballot questions, and state representative in the 4th Berkshire District. Towns in the Berkshire Hills and Southern Berkshire regional school districts have school committee races.
* For polling locations, please see Page A5.
Where to vote
Here are polling places by town in Northern Berkshire County, along with the number of the town or city hall that residents should call with any questions or concerns.
Adams: Department of Public Works garage, 92 North Summer St.; 743-8320
Cheshire: Senior Center, 119 School St.; 743-1690
Clarksburg: Senior Center; 663-8255
Florida: Town Office, 379 Mohawk Trail; 664-6685
Hancock: Hancock School, Route 43; 738-5225
New Ashford: Town Hall, 199 Mallory Road; 458-5461
North Adams: (662-3015)
Ward 1, 2, 3 and 5: St. Elizabeth’s Parish Center, St. Anthony Drive
Ward 4: Greylock School, Upper Phelps Avenue Entrance
Savoy: Senior Center, 720 Main Road; 743-3759
Williamstown: Elementary School, 115 Church St.; 458-9341