P.O. Box 324
Truro MA, 02666

New Voter Registrations Challenged | List Targeted?

On October 17,  a Truro citizen, Raphael Richter, filed challenges against 66 new voters, challenging their registrations on the basis of a five- item  “sushi menu” of alleged violations of voter registration requirements.

Mr. Richter is  a member of the Truro Finance Committee, the Walsh Committee,  and (fiduciary) Board Member of the Community Development Partnership, a nonprofit dedicated to development and management of affordable housing projects in five Outer Cape towns.

The “Challenged Voters” appear to include a portion of new registrants since May 10, 2023, the first day after the last elections.  After this date, voter registrants are considered “new voters” and unless the challenger can prove ineligibility, they are entitled to vote at Town Meetings.

TPRTA and Others Encourage Voter Registration

In August 2023, TPRTA joined other organizations and elected officials serving Truro in calling for voter registrations by eligible registrants.  Annually, the Town of Truro (and all other MA municipalities) are required to notify non-voters/property owners of their right to register to vote, if eligible.  The Town has not done this for the past 25 years, and TPRTA did so following the unanimous vote of its Members in July 2023 to inform “part-timers” of the opportunity, procedures, and importance of registering to vote, if they are eligible to declare Truro “home” from that point forward and vote only from Truro as long as registered to vote in Truro.  TPRTA has done this numerous times since its founding more than 25 years ago.

Targeted Challenges? 

Here are some interesting facts on the challenged voters.

  • 159 new voter registrations were filed in Truro from May 10 to October 15 (the day after last elections to the last date to obtain voter information from the Town before Raphael Richter identified his challenged 66).
  • Voters on “the 66” list appear at first blush to include a portion of all new registrants with second addresses outside of Truro.  However, nearly 100 “veteran voters” – on the voter rolls before May 9 elections –  also have second addresses outside of Truro as do a number of “new voters” under the age of 40.  Richter challenged none of these.
  • On August 14th, TPRTA informed its MA-based members of the right to register to vote if eligible, that is, meeting lawful requirements to intend Truro to be  “hone” from that point forward and to vote nowhere else.
  • From that date to October 15th,  105 persons registered.  Of these 47 (45%) pay personal property tax, the presumptive determinant of “part-timer” status.  But of these 47 new voters, a staggering 45 (96%) were challenged –  provided they were seniors and/or in neighborhoods of concern to the Town. 
  • Of  the challenged voters 82% are seniors. While the Town population overall is 61% for folks over 60 years of age.  The remainder of the challenged (18%)  were 50 -59 yrs for the most part.  No voter under the age of 40 –  even if they had two addresses – was challenged.  But 82% of the clanged voters are seniors.
  • A significant portion of the challenged voters (about one-third) reside near sites targeted for Town capital projects (near Walsh, the Public Safety Facility, Cloverleaf).  This is about double the proportion of the total population living in such neighborhoods.

Voters Opposition to High Costs, High Taxes, High Density, High Traffic a Factor?

Opposition of VOTERS to the Town’s expensive proposals for two capital projects has been growing over the summer.  A proposed new DPW on Rt 6 and a hotly contested  high-density cluster housing project at the Walsh property on Rt 6 have been strongly opposed in public forums and commentaries as proposed.  The $35 Million ($65 Million with debt service)  DPW on Route 6 and the  scope and unspecified costs to taxpayers for the Walsh project will burden taxpayers with a projected $100M in debt.  Our current Town debt is $9 million, but is usually closer to $2 Million, and thus, the increase tax burden is staggering, especially to seniors, young families, and others on fixed or limited incomes.

Both projects have community alternatives available at smaller scope and more affordable tax burden scenarios. Town Hall is not considering these at this time.

Voter Suppression?

Voter challenges have been cited as a basis to delay Special Town Meeting, notwithstanding that Truro does not have the authority to continue Town Meetings except for safety (over-occupancy) reasons, per MGL. 39 Sec 10. .

Seniors have expressed most vocal opposition to date largely due to the crushing tax burden, the loss of rural character, and the unknown impacts on Town services and social services that may result from these large projects, absent better  and more responsive planning.  Voter challenges are viewed as a way to intimidate seniors into not registering or showing up to vote, consistent with an increasing trend of voter challenges in MA and elsewhere (most often for partisan politics, not taxes), as the Breann Center has noted.

TPRTA Co-participated in Voter Registration Efforts in Truro

TPRTA was one of several entities that encouraged folks to register to vote in the most recent voter registration cycle (since May 10). Several efforts also attempted to motivate voters to turn out to vote.  Community Development Housing, Highland Affordable Housing, and a campaign-based community effort called “Advocates for Attainable Housing” engaged in voter turnout efforts (GOTV) as did a new Truro community action group — Take Back Truro — that was started in June by two Truro full-timers and engaged in GOTV efforts. TPRTA, however, did not conduct GOTV efforts and never promoted positions on the hotly-debated  warrant articles facing Truro voters at Special Town Meeting in a few days.

Despite the range of non-profit and civic actors involved in voter engagement in Truro, key Truro officials along with media allies are proclaiming that TPRTA is responsible for some type of voter insurgency — yet only about a quarter of all new voter registrations since then appear to come from “part-timers” and this represents about 5% of all part-timers.  This is in line with the usual number of households (with multiple voters) that transition from part-time to  full-time status in any given year.

Along with others, TPRTA engaged in an effort to bolster voter registration among eligible residents and to encourage greater voter engagement a proud and lawful tradition among nonprofits, private citizens and others who are dedicated to civic engagement in Truro.