A Not-So-Chaotic Election Day in Brookline

Edward Gillis shows his support outside the polls in Brookline. Photo by Emma Seslowsky.

By Emma Seslowsky
BU News Service

BROOKLINE, Mass. – On the morning of election day, the polling place at Coolidge Corner Library was an oasis amidst the chaos of this year’s election.

With no wait, voters strolled down a concrete ramp lined with bursts of burnt orange and red autumn leaves that led into the library. A handful of smiling faces administered ballots, stickers, and bright red informational voting packets.

After exiting the polling place, voters were taken into an eerily quiet and empty library. A winding path around well-stocked bookcases took them to the exit and back outside where several polling place volunteers gathered.

Edward Gillis, 59, stood 150 feet away from the voting booths, as per Massachusetts law. He held up signs for Democrats Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, for president and vice president, and Joe Kennedy for Congress. A blue Hillary button and a yellow “No on 2” button – opposing an expansion of charter schools in Massachusetts — adorned his stained, dark gray sweatshirt.

Gillis studied applied mathematics at Harvard University and now works as an engineer. He was a student in the Boston public school system himself and says his experience was good but not great.

Voting yes on ballot Question 2 “will divert funds from the public schools and gradually degrade the public schools in Brookline, where we already have good schools. A change would be for the worse,” said a stoic Gillis, wearing a cap from his college alma mater.

Gillis said he fears that programs for public schools will be eliminated if Question 2 is passed. “Also, I wonder if they’re trying to break the teachers union,” he added.

Also standing 150 feet away from the voting booths was Leila, a 77-year-old woman wearing cat-eye sunglasses, a bright green hat, and a mauve corduroy track suit with the same yellow “No on 2” button as Gillis.

She withheld her last name, saying she prefers to remain “incognito.” When asked if she was a bit distrustful, Leila replied immediately.

“A lot. I know how the F.B.I. works.”

Leila was less secretive regarding her thoughts on Question 2.

“City schools should probably get more money, more teachers, more assistance, but not in the form of other schools taking the money away. And it’s the big boys who are paying for these wonderful ads and they have never done anything for us,” Leila said of the investors behind the “Yes on 2” television advertisements.

Even as an unwavering Clinton supporter, Leila said she still has fears that Republican ideologies will influence the Democratic presidential hopeful.

“I do want Hillary to be more open-minded in her policies, not so Republican as Bill (Clinton) was. I’m concerned that all these Republicans are supporting her and might sway her.”

It took all of five minutes to cast a ballot at Ward 0, Precinct 2 in Brookline at the Coolidge Corner Library. Polls will close at 8 p.m.

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