Preliminary Elections 101

We are getting a lot of questions about preliminary elections. We thought we would take a few minutes to give our humble opinion on the matter. 

Why are preliminary elections important?

First, we’ve seen a huge number of Salem residents watching the forums (THANK YOU and YAY!) The first reason preliminary elections are important is that they are used to eliminate some candidates, so that means if you don’t vote for your favorites now, they might not be on the ballot in November for you to vote for them then.

The next reason preliminaries are important is that you have an opportunity to vote strategically to influence the November slate. Do some candidates have similar opinions on topics and issues? The preliminary election gives voters the opportunity to reflect on which candidate is more suitable or electable in a strategic way. If candidates A and B both make the general election, will they split the vote giving candidate C the win? Or is candidate D your very favorite, but you think they are a long-shot? Perhaps then you consider voting for candidate E, whom you find acceptable and believe has a good chance of winning overall. (Ranked choice voting would eliminate this last concern. Please consider writing Rep. Tucker and Sen. Lovely to show support for H. 635 and S. 420, which are supported by LWVMA and would allow ranked choice voting in municipal elections.) 

How many candidates can I vote for?

This year, there are preliminary elections in Wards 3 and 6, for the councilor-at-large race, and for the school committee.

If you live in Ward 3: Vote for the candidate of your choice (1)

If you live in Ward 6: Vote for the candidate of your choice (1)

Councilor-at-Large: Vote for UP TO four of the candidates you would like to see on the general ballot (4)

School Committee: Vote for UP TO three of the candidates you would like to see on the general ballot (3)

When is the preliminary election?

Tuesday, 17 September

Absentee ballots ARE available from the city clerk if you have a valid reason for missing the election (ex.,you are traveling for work, you are in the hospital, etc.) Here is more information from the city clerk and here are sample forms (in four languages) you may use to request an absentee ballot. You don’t have to use the form, but you do have to make the request in writing.