Boston: Message from Commissioner McCosh: What's happening going Into the election and holiday season

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Dear Disability Community Members,

There are a lot of important things happening in Boston right now, so we want to make sure you are up to date on the busy week ahead!
2020 State Election
Next Tuesday, November 3, is election day! This year, you will be able to cast your vote for local and national leaders as well as for the President of the United States. There are many ways to cast your ballot this year, so take advantage of one of the options that works best for you.
  • Voting in Person on Election Day - You can still vote in person on November 3rd by going to your local polling site. All polling locations are wheelchair accessible and have AutoMark machines for those who are unable to fill out a paper ballot. Find your polling location before you go, because some changes have been made since the last election. Please review the health and safety precautions for in-person voting.

  • Early Voting - The early voting period for the state election continues through this Friday, October 30th. You can vote early or drop off your mailed ballot at any early voting location during the remainder of this early voting period. If you plan to return your ballot in person instead of mailing it, you have until 8 p.m. on November 3rd to drop off your ballot at any of the 17 dropboxes available around the City.

  • Mail-in Voting - If you prefer not to vote in person on election day this year there is still time to vote by mail - but time is running out! More information is available here.
  • Accessible Voting By Mail (AVBM) - The Accessible Vote by Mail program allows voters whose disabilities prevent them from filling out a paper ballot to complete their ballot electronically. Voters can return their ballot by email, by mail, at a secure drop-box, or do an in-person delivery to their local election office.To access AVBM, you must submit both a Request for Accommodation and a Vote by Mail Application to the AVBM Coordinator by 5 pm on October 28, 2020. Requests and Applications may be submitted via email to avbm@sec.state.ma.us. Requests may also be made by phone at (617) 727-2828 between 8:45 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday. The Disability Law Center put together a video with open captions and ASL which explains the Accessible Vote By Mail process. You can watch the video here.
  • Deadlines - The deadline to register to vote has passed, but if you are registered to vote in this election, please be mindful of the following dates:
    • Last day to request an AVBM ballot: October 28 by 5 p.m.
    • Last date to vote early: October 30
    • Election Day: November 3
    • Latest you can drop off a mailed ballot: November 3 by 8 p.m.
Disability Commission Advisory Board
There are currently two open seats on the Boston Disability Commission Advisory Board. The Board is made up of 13 members who provide input to Mayor Walsh and other City officials on issues of importance in the disability community. We welcome applications from all who meet the following requirements:

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  • Must be a Boston resident
  • Must identify as having a disability or be an immediate family member of someone with a disability
  • Must be interested in working on accessibility and inclusion issues in Boston
  • Must be available to attend monthly meetings on Wednesday evenings from 5:30 to 7:30 (meetings will be virtual for the foreseeable future).

Interested applicants can apply using this form or by submitting a letter of interest and resume if they wish to disability@boston.gov. More information is available in the press release about the application process and the Boston Disability Commission Advisory Board web page. Apply now!

The next meeting of our Advisory Board will be held this Wednesday, October 28, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Members of the public are invited to attend this virtual meeting online or by phone. Public input is welcome and encouraged!
COVID-19 Updates
  • Rates are Rising - Unfortunately, cases of COVID-19 in Boston are up this week. We are now above a 5% of COVID-19 tests in Boston coming back positive over a 7 day period. This puts us in the "red zone," which means that additional reopening has been put on hold for now.    
  • Schools are Fully Remote - Due to the rising COVID-19 infection rate in the City, all Boston Public School students shifted to remote learning on October 22nd. Students with disabilities who need in person instruction will be prioritized to be some of the first students to return to the classroom as soon as possible. For the most up to date information, please visit the Boston Public Schools reopening web page.
  • Testing is Available - Mayor Walsh is requesting all Boston residents to get tested for COVID-19, even if you haven't been exposed. This is important because it allows City officials to gather information and data they can use to contain the spread of the virus. More information on COVID testing in Boton is available here.
Holiday Gatherings
The holiday season is approaching quickly. Many of us are looking forward to a reason to celebrate, and want to see family and friends. However, we will need to make sure that we are doing so safely this year. That means our usual holiday gatherings will not look the same in 2020.

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  • Mayor Walsh issued guidelines today on Halloween safety. You can find this information here.
Staying Safe
As the seasons change this year, guidance remains in place to help keep everyone safe. Please remember to follow this guidance during the holidays as well.
  • Wear face coverings in public and with people outside of your household
  • Practice social distancing - stay at least 6 feet apart where possible
  • Avoid crowded areas and do not host social gatherings
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer regularly
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home if you feel sick
  • Get tested for COVID-19

As always, please feel free to reach out to us if you need assistance. You can dial 311 to reach City Hall or call us at 617-635-3682. Our email is disability@boston.gov  and the latest updates are available at Boston.gov.

Until next week, please stay informed, stay safe, and stay healthy!

Sincerely,



Commissioner Kristen McCoshstats


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