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Voting, A Massachusetts Tax Holiday Weekend, And More Voting

A Massachusetts vote-by-mail application.
Robin Lubbock
/
WBUR
A Massachusetts vote-by-mail application.

In Massachusetts for the very first time, early voting is underway for a state primary election. There is also a huge vote-by-mail effort right now.

Reporter Matt Murphy of the State House News Service joins us to talk about what he's hearing about the numbers so far — and what else to look for this week in state government and politics.

Matt Murphy, State House News Service: Secretary Galvin last week said that over a million ballots have been mailed out to voters looking to vote in the September 1 primary. So this first effort at mail-in voting in Massachusetts — statewide, for an election like this — is looking pretty robust, according to Galvin.

And then on top of that, you have early voting now underway. This is something Massachusetts has done before, but it is only ever done in the general election that extended this cycle, because of the pandemic, to the state primary. So that started happening just last week, and over the weekend.

We have a period until August 28 when people can show up in-person.

We do not have numbers yet, but there are expectations that this will also be quite popular. So this is pointing to pretty strong interest in participation in this year's election, which could lead to good turnout. We're still going to have to wait and see.

Carrie Healy, NEPM: The deadline for mail and voting applications landing in a clerk's office is this Wednesday. With the election next week, that means a very fast turnaround time. There's a lawsuit before the Supreme Judicial Court about this, trying to extend the timeline for folks to send in their votes. That would mean a much-delayed result, right?

That is right. Becky Grossman, one of the candidates running for Congress in the 4th Congressional District — that's the seat currently held by Joe Kennedy, who's running for the Senate in the western suburbs of Boston and the South Coast — is asking the court to make sure that any ballot postmarked by September 1 gets counted.

So even if it came in after the September 1 primary election day, those ballots would still count.

It's similar to what the state did in the general election, if you vote and drop that ballot in the mail, and get it postmarked by Election Day in November. The state gave until the Friday after the election for those ballots to arrive in the clerk's office of your local town or city hall, and they will be counted if they get there by the end of that week.

That would, of course, potentially delay the outcome. If we have races that are particularly close — where the number of outstanding ballots that a clerk knows still have not been returned — it could push the results one way or another.

A sales tax holiday is coming up in Massachusetts, as long as the items you're buying are less than $2,500. It's usually back-to-school shopping season, but that's no doubt dampened this year with school looking very different. Are retailers expecting much of a bump?

I think this is one of those things where they're crossing their fingers. This is a time where people typically do back-to-school shopping. Things like clothes — maybe they won't be in such high demand with the kids not going back to school. Notebooks, all of those things.

But it is also a time where people sometimes delay larger purchases. And even now, if you're purchasing some of this stuff online, you may still have to pay the sales tax.

Retailers have always liked this holiday. They think it's a way to drum up business for local retailers, and give them a competitive edge with the big online retailers, like Amazon and others. I think you're going to see a lot of advertising again this year, a lot of pushing to try and make up for some of the lost sales during the pandemic.

Keep up here with Beacon Hill In 5.

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