HomeAnnouncementsWestfordCAT's Guide for the 2022 Ballot

WestfordCAT’s Guide for the 2022 Ballot

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WESTFORD — With a number of questions on the ballot, WestfordCAT has prepared a voter guide for tomorrow’s federal, state and local elections.

Where can I vote?

Voters who opt to vote early in-person will vote at the former fire station at 51 Main St. Voters who vote in-person on Nov. 8 must vote at their assigned precincts. Curious about your precinct? Check out the map below or contact the Town Clerk’s office at 978-692-5515.

Updated voter precinct map. (Photo/Town of Westford)

What if I vote by mail? 

Voters who applied for a mail-in ballot will receive two separate mailed ballots – a neon green envelope for the local ballot and an additional envelope for the state and federal ballot.

Voters must apply for a mail-in ballot by mail, email, fax or online by Nov. 1.

Mail-in ballots cannot be dropped off at a polling location on Election Day. Mail-in ballots must be returned in-person to the Town Clerk’s office or to a ballot drop by located by Town Hall by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8.

Ballots returned by mail must reach the Town Clerk’s office by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12 to be counted. Mailed ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day can only be counted if they are postmarked by Election Day.

Voters who apply for a mail-in ballot but choose to vote in-person must inform their precinct before voting in-person.

What’s on Westford’s ballot?

This year, voters in Westford will receive two ballots. The special local election ballot will present voters with two questions.

Question 1 involves authorizing a debt exclusion to the now delayed 51 Main St. construction project: 

Shall the Town of Westford be allowed to exempt from the provisions of Proposition 2-1/2, so-called, the amounts required to pay for the bonds issued for the construction of a new municipal building located at 51 Main Street, including demolition of the existing building, constructing, furnishing and equipping a new building, rerouting and extending fiber optic cables and equipment to 30 Patten Road and 39 Town Farm Road, and securing the current technology offices at 1 East Prescott Street, and all other costs incidental and related thereto?

Question 2 involves authorizing a debt exclusion to the recently approved J.V. Fletcher Library expansion: 

Shall the Town of Westford be allowed to exempt from the provisions of Proposition 2 and ½, so-called, the amounts required to pay for the bond issued in order to expand and renovate the J.V. Fletcher Library located at 50 Main Street, Westford, MA, and all costs incidental and related thereto?

What’s on the State ballot?

The state ballot will present voters with four questions. The text for each question can be found below, along with additional clarifying information.

Question 1 would levy an additional 4% tax on taxable income over $1,000,000:

This proposed constitutional amendment would establish an additional 4% state income tax on that portion of annual taxable income in excess of $1 million. This income level would be adjusted annually, by the same method used for federal income-tax brackets, to reflect increases in the cost of living.

Revenues from this tax would be used, subject to appropriation by the state legislature, for public education, public colleges and universities; and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges, and public transportation. The proposed amendment would apply to tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2023.

How much will it raise? 

The amendment is projected to raise approximately $1.3 billion in revenue, according to a study from Tuft’s University Center for State Policy Analysis. 

Will this impact me?

Maybe. The tax creates a new marginal tax rate for income earned over $1 million. Under current law, all taxable income is taxed at 5%.

Under Massachusetts law, income from the sale of a home and business is considered taxable, but according to the Department of Revenue, only profits from sales would be taxed.

Homeowners, for example, are not taxed on the sale price of their home, but rather the capital gains on their home, or the difference between the sale price and the previous purchase price. A home that was purchased for $250,000 and sold for $950,000 would have a capital gain rate of $700,000 – below the $1 million threshold.

According to a recent report from the Warren Group, a Massachusetts based national real estate and mortgage data provider, approximately 2% of home sales meet the $1 million threshold to trigger the new tax.

What will the money be used for?

Funding from the initiative is earmarked for education and transportation. However, where exactly funding will be allocated for education and transportation is subject to appropriation by the state legislature.

What will my vote do? 

A yes vote would amend the state Constitution to impose an additional 4% tax on that portion of incomes over one million dollars to be used, subject to appropriation by the state Legislature, on education and transportation.

A no vote would make no change in the state Constitution.

Question 2 would regulate dental insurance rates:

Question 2 would introduce new regulations on dental insurance carriers, requiring providers to spend at least 83% of their income on patient care. The full text of the proposed law can be found here.

What is a medical loss ratio? 

A medical loss ratio is the ratio to which premiums must be spent on patient care. Currently, Massachusetts has no regulations as to how much an individual premium must be spent on patient care.

A medical loss ratio currently exists under the Affordable Care Act for medical insurers. Currently, medical insurers must spend at least 80% of an individual’s premium on patient care. The remaining 20% can be spent on administrative costs.

Will my premiums increase? 

Section 2(d) of the proposed law disallows premium increases above the dental consumer price index without state approval.

What will my vote do?

A yes vote would regulate dental insurance rates, including creating an 83% medical loss ratio for dental insurers.

A no vote would make no change in the existing law.

Question 3 would expand the availability of licenses for the sale of alcoholic beverages:

The proposed law would create new regulations around the sale of alcohol in five ways:

    • The number of licenses a single retailer could control for all alcoholic beverages and wine and malt beverages would increase gradually from nine in 2022 to 18 in 2031.
    • A retailer would only be able to control up to seven all alcoholic beverages licenses unless a retailer already controls more than seven all alcoholic beverages licenses.
    • Self-checkout for alcohol would be prohibited.
    • Fines for non-compliance would be increased from gross sales of alcoholic beverages to gross sales of all merchandise within a retailer.
    • Out of state licenses would be considered valid forms of identification to purchase alcohol.

What will my vote do?

A yes vote would increase the number of licenses a retailer could have for the sale of alcoholic beverages to be consumed off premises, limit the number of “all-alcoholic beverages” licenses that a retailer could acquire, restrict use of self-checkout, and require retailers to accept customers’ out-of-state identification.

A no vote would make no changes to the existing law.

Question 4 would uphold current eligibility for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants: 

The current law permits Massachusetts residents who cannot provide proof of lawful presence in the United States to obtain a standard driver’s license or learner’s permit.

Residents would still need to meet all other criteria, including proof of insurance, a road test, as well a proof of identity, date of birth and residency.

The full text of the existing law can be found here.

Massachusetts automatically registers residents to vote. Will undocumented immigrants be registered to vote?

The current law requires the registrar and Secretary of the Commonwealth to establish procedures and regulations to ensure residents unable to provide proof of lawful presence will not be registered to vote.

The text of the law does not outline what specific procedures are in place to prevent automatic voter registration those unable to prove lawful presence within the United States.

A report from Tuft’s University Center for State Policy Analysis noted that the RMV provides licenses to 16 and 17-year-old drivers, who are not registered to vote. The center notes that the RMV could adapt a similar approach to the current law.

Will this law make roads safer?

The same report noted that offering undocumented immigrants could encourage undocumented immigrants to take driving classes and increase compliance with law enforcement.

What will my vote do? 

A yes vote would allow the law to take effect.

A no vote would annul the law before it could take effect.

Local journalism is vital to our communities. As other publications shift focus toward regional journalism, WestfordCAT continues to provide high-quality hyperlocal reporting to our town, free for everyone to read. So  we have a small favor to ask. Every contribution, no matter how big or small, helps us sustain our journalism and keep our community informed. Please consider supporting WestfordCAT for as little as $1 on PayPal.

Ben Domaingue
Ben Domainguehttps://www.clippings.me/bendomaingue
Ben Domaingue has previously worked at newspapers in New Hampshire and is the Managing Editor covering Westford. He’s passionate about community journalism, photography and hiking. Email him at bdomaingue@westfordcat.org.