LYNNFIELD — Townspeople will be able to vote by mail for the Town Election on Tuesday, April 9.

The Select Board on Feb. 14 held a public hearing under the VOTES Act’s provision that would have allowed the town to opt-out of early voting-by-mail for the Town Election. Town Clerk Amanda Haggstrom recalled that the VOTES Act, which was approved by the State Legislature and signed into law by former Gov. Charlie Baker in 2022, requires the Secretary of State’s Office to send each registered voter in the commonwealth a pre-addressed, postage prepaid vote-by-mail application before each statewide election.

“During years where there are no state elections, the state does not mail postcards out,” said Haggstrom. “If anybody wants to vote by mail, they have to take it upon themselves to get an application, mail it to our office or bring it in. When there are state elections, the state mails cards out that asks if people want to vote in all elections, which means we will need to mail a ballot to every single person who is requesting it.”

Haggstrom said State Auditor Diana DiZoglio’s office has yet to determine the reimbursement costs associated with mail-in voting for local elections.

“They have been doing that for all state elections, but the reimbursement cost is not great,” said Haggstrom. “There are a lot of costs associated with this. A lot of it has to do with labor. We have to bring in a lot of extra staff who can help us get through this because it is pretty intensive.”

Haggstrom said it costs 92 cents to mail each ballot to registered voters. She also said the Town Clerk’s Office has to purchase different supplies in order to mail ballots to voters.

“If you add up all of the costs for everything, you are looking at $2 to $3 to mail a ballot to each registered voter,” said Haggstrom.

Haggstrom said the Town Clerk’s Office can handle vote-by-mail during years where there are no state elections, but she said it’s difficult this year due to the presidential primary on Tuesday, March 5; a Special Town Meeting on Monday, March 18; the Town Election on Tuesday, April 9 and Spring Town Meeting on Monday, April 29.

“With the costs associated of having four elections in one year, I don’t know if that is something we should be asking taxpayers to be spending money on right now,” said Haggstrom. “I think vote-by-mail is a great service and I love everybody’s right to vote, but I think in these busy years when people want to vote-by-mail for local elections, it’s something we are going to have to look into for future budgets and staffing. It’s something that we are going to have to invest in.”

In response to a question from Town Administrator Rob Dolan, Haggstrom said opting out of voting by mail for the Town Election would not impact the three state elections this year.

Bourque Road resident Susan McDonough said she supports mail-in voting for the Town Election.

“I am in favor of making the process as easy as possible for anyone who is elderly and disabled,” she said. “I just think it would be a big help. We want to move toward universal suffrage anyhow. The more people we get to vote, the better.”

Former Selectman Mark McDonough agreed with his wife’s viewpoint. He accused the Select Board of “trying to restrict voting instead of opening it up more.”

“There are organizations, cities and towns that are pushing to make it easier, not harder and more restrictive,” said Mark McDonough. “Does anyone have any ideas about what this would accomplish? Making it harder to vote is what it is going to accomplish. I think it is a foolhardy idea to save a couple of bucks.”

Mark McDonough also questioned why the Select Board moved its meeting from last Monday to Valentine’s Day.

Select Board Chair Joe Connell said the meeting was moved in order to accommodate a Lynnfield Center Water District Board of Water Commissioners meeting.

“We weren’t trying to deceive anybody by moving this meeting,” said Connell. “We had a conflict.”

Haggstrom said the Town Clerk’s Office wants to offer vote-by-mail for Town Elections.

“We want to offer this service,” said Haggstrom. “We would love to have the budget raised, but we didn’t build this into the budget this year.”

Trickett Road resident Wayne Perry said mail-in voting is a “great idea.”

Select Board member Dick Dalton said he supported allowing voting-by-mail for the Town Election.

“I think the easier we make voting for the public, the better off,” said Dalton.

Select Board member Phil Crawford agreed.

“This is one of the largest Town Elections we have ever had,” said Crawford. “I think we should leave it the way it is.”

Connell concurred with his colleagues’ viewpoints.

“We take what the audience is saying into consideration,” said Connell. “We value your opinion. We don’t hide anything, so we are not going to opt-out of voting by mail.”