State seeing jump in requests for absentee ballots
Massachusetts voters are requesting absentee ballots at a quicker pace than four years ago.
Secretary of State William F. Galvin said more than 184,000 voters have already requested the ballots and more than 71,000 have returned them.
That’s significantly more than the last presidential election, Galvin said.
While the deadline to request an absentee ballot is Nov. 3, Galvin said voters need to get their requests in early since the ballots must be received by election officials by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.
The exception is citizens and those in the military living overseas who have an extra 10 days, until Nov. 14, to have their ballots received.
Galvin said his office is still counting the number of registered voters and isn’t ready to make a prediction yet on turnout.
NEW BEDFORD — One of the key congressional negotiators in the $700 billion dollar financial bailout expects Democrats to push for another economic stimulus package after the Nov. 4 election.
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank predicted the new effort would focus on easing fears about lending and investing, saying the “psychological problem is even worse than the real problem.”
The Massachusetts Democrat, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, made his comments last Thursday to the editorial board of the Standard-Times of New Bedford.
Frank said the new package would help states pay for stalled infrastructure projects, and also provide assistance to struggling Americans in the form of extended unemployment benefits and money for food stamps and health care costs.
Frank added that if there does not appear to be agreement in a lame-duck Congress on a stimulus plan, Democrats will likely wait for the new Congress in January.
Report: Mass. economy can’t escape recession
A new forecast from University of Massachusetts economists says that if the state is not already in a recession, it will be within the next six months.
Massachusetts has been outperforming much of the nation over the last year, prompting hopes that it might be able to skirt the most severe affects of the global financial downturn.
The UMass report, however, said the state’s economy grew less than 1 percent last month and it predicts even sharper job losses in the coming months. Employers in the state cut nearly 4,000 jobs in September.
While Massachusetts has benefited from its strong technology and health services sectors, UMass-Boston professor Alan Clayton-Matthews says those companies sell to the world and the worldwide economy is slowing.
Two managers at a New Bedford leather-goods factory raided last year by immigration agents have pleaded guilty to charges they employed illegal workers.
Dilia Costa and Gloria Melo, both managers at Michael Bianco Inc., won’t serve prison time if a federal judge approves the tentative plea deals.
The 56-year-old Costa pleaded guilty last Friday to charges including harboring illegal immigrants. The 42-year-old Melo pleaded guilty to a charge of knowingly allowing an illegal immigrant to work at the factory.
The deal would sentence Costa to two years probation, including six months home confinement. Melo would pay a $500 fine.
Both are scheduled to be sentenced in January.
The March 2007 raid detained 361 workers who were allegedly illegal immigrants. Immigrant advocates criticized the raid for separating families and leaving children without proper care.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Connecticut prison officials say that of the handful of state prisoners eligible to vote, only a fraction actually cast absentee ballots.
While states such as Louisiana and Georgia are signing up new voters behind bars and encouraging them to cast ballots, Connecticut has no such registration drives in its prisons.
A corrections official said that as of last week, just under 5,500 of the state’s 19,000 inmates were eligible to vote.
That includes inmates serving time for misdemeanors and those awaiting trial.
Authorities say fewer than 100 of the eligible prisoners usually cast absentee ballots. But activists say those votes could be important, especially for inmates who come from cities with tight races.
R.I. jobless eligible for extra unemployment help
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A soaring unemployment rate in Rhode Island has resulted in extra benefits for the jobless.
The state Department of Labor and Training said last Friday that the unemployed will soon be able to qualify for a total of 46 weeks of unemployment benefits. An estimated 8.8 percent of people were unemployed in Rhode Island during September, the worst such rate in the country.
Those unable to find work are normally eligible for 26 weeks of paid assistance.
But the state’s unemployment rate has now met or exceeded 8 percent for three months, triggering seven additional weeks of benefits. It follows a previous increase of 13 weeks.
BURLINGTON, Vt. — University of Vermont officials say a special committee will consider a request by more than 100 student protesters that UVM withdraw its investments in companies that build weapons systems for the U.S. military.
The promise from Richard Cate, UVM vice president for finance and administration, came after students gathered to air their demands last Friday outside the office of UVM President Daniel Fogel.
UVM’s Socially Responsible Investment Committee will decide whether to recommend to the Board of Trustees that UVM’s endowment funds sell off their investments in DynCorp, General Dynamics, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.
The group Students Against War says the companies have a vested interest in perpetuating warfare.