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Let The Games Begin

Let The Games BeginTufts alumnus and former Massachusetts Senator Louis P. Bertonazzi is the driving force behind a 16-town competition designed to encourage people to vote.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.23.06] The democratic process has a big fan in Louis P. Bertonazzi. “I was interested and involved even before I could vote,” the 1955 Tufts graduate, who has voted in every election since he reached voting age, told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. Now, the former state senator is trying to encourage Massachusetts residents to do the same through a unique initiative.

“It’s our single most important responsibility to vote,” Bertonazzi told the Telegram & Gazette. One way to motivate people to do their civic duty, he decided, was to turn it into a competition.

“I love competitions,” Bertonazzi, a modern languages major at Tufts and founder of the university’s Young Democrats group, told the Telegram & Gazette. “I think most people love competitions, and I think competitions draw in a lot of people. Competition makes for conversations, and competition usually makes it more interesting.”

Through his non-profit, the Senator Louis P. Bertonazzi Foundation, he is sponsoring a contest among 16 towns to see which one can attract more registered voters to the polls in the next two years.

Before launching the contest, Bertonazzi, who retired from the state senate in 1996, visited the town clerks in 16 central Massachusetts communities that were once in his district.

“The town clerks – who are underappreciated oftentimes – were very positive,” Bertonazzi told the Telegram & Gazette. “There was not one negative response.”

And so the games began.

According to the newspaper, “the competition will cover the municipal elections, which are usually held in the spring, the state primary in September and the state and federal elections in November.”

The town that draws the highest percentage of registered voters to the polls, Bertonazzi told the Telegram & Gazette, will receive a banner, an engraved plaque and $1,000 from the foundation to “enhance the voting process.”

Foundation member Cynthia A. Casey believes that Bertonazzi’s efforts are worthwhile.

“It’s going to be a great community effort to encourage people to get out the vote, and to become more involved in their town governments,” Casey told the Telegram & Gazette. “Getting involved can only help build stronger communities in the long run.”


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