Brookline Republicans Campaign to the End

By Shep Hayes
BU News Service 

BROOKLINE–Outside the side entrance to the Edward Devotion School Gymnasium in Brookline Tuesday, voters heading inside to cast their ballots were greeted with an array of campaign signs.

Some signs were stuck into the ground across the street from the pathway leading to the entrance of the polling place. Others were strapped to telephone polls lining Stedman Street south towards its intersection with Harvard Street. One large blue placard devoted to Democrats running for national offices–Elizabeth Warren for Senate and Joe Kennedy for Congress–was tied onto the black chain link fencing of the school yard.

Despite the efforts of campaigns themselves, however, voters seemed to think the signs served little purpose. Most thought people voted with their pre-existing convictions or had made up their minds well before they headed to the polls.

“It does nothing but build a little name recognition, that’s all,” said Richard Getz, a 56-year-old Republican who came to vote at the Devotion Gymnasium on his bike. Referring to campaign signs he had passed, he said they had not affected his voting plans at all.

The signs at Devotion Gym matched the scene at other polling places around North Brookline. Voters at the Precent 9 polls at the Brookline Senior Center, the Precinct 10 polls at John W. Kickham Apartments on Harvard Street and the Precinct 2 polls at the Coolidge Corner branch of the Brookline Public Library were all greeted by an abundance of signs for every major candidate and question on Brookline’s ballot.

Only one person could be found actively campaigning outside of those locations early Tuesday afternoon, however: Nancy Gregg, a Democrat from Brookline who was handing out postcard-sized yellow leaflets to voters heading into the converted gymnasium at the Devotion School. She urged a yes vote on Question 5, which calls for campaign finance reform.

Gregg, 68, darted back and forth between two orange posts set up on either side of the path to the gym. Each marked the zone surrounding the polling place campaigning was prevented in, per Massachusetts law, which prohibits campaigning within 150 feet from the entrance to a polling place.

“Not a lot,” Gregg said of the impact she thought she had. “I think it’s minuscule–changes here and there. My hope is that over time people will support this, come to realize its a serious issue.”

Ron Gallagher, the warden of the Precinct 8 polls at the Devotion Gym, said in the early afternoon his staff had yet to face with any problems due to active campaigning near the polling place.

Even though voters saw little impact from polling-place campaigning, there was at least one person who disagreed.

“Because of you, I voted today,” one younger voter said to Gregg as he walked out of the gym.


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