Galvin predicts low voter turnout in Massachusetts, saying there is 'not an awful lot of enthusiasm'
Massachusetts voter turnout will likely fall far short of previous records this year, according to the state’s top election official.
While interest is high nationally as Republicans and Democrats battle for control of Congress, excitement appears to be lower in Massachusetts, where there are fewer competitive races.
“There is not an awful lot of enthusiasm, particularly in regards to the statewide contests,” Secretary of State William Galvin told voters on Monday, the day before Election Day.
Galvin predicted 2.2 million people would cast ballots, significantly lower than the last election of statewide officials four years ago. He based the prediction on early voting in person and ballots already cast by mail.
By comparison, 2.7 million voters cast ballots in the 2018 midterms in Massachusetts, when many voters nationally were energized by feelings for and against former President Donald Trump. That’s despite the fact that the state featured a lackluster gubernatorial race four years ago in which Gov. Charlie Baker easily cruised to a reelection victory.
Galvin said an open seat and a competitive gubernatorial race in 2014 between Baker and former Attorney General Martha Coakley brought out just under 2.2 million voters. That’s similar to what he expects this year, despite the fact that the state has made it far easier to vote by mail, which should increase voter turnout.
Polls show all six Democrats running for statewide office (including Galvin, who is seeking an unprecedented eighth term) have double-digit leads. And political analysts expect all nine Democrats in the U.S. House from Massachusetts to easily win reelection, despite Republican hopes of a red wave nationally.
Still, Galvin said there has been strong interest in the four questions on this year’s statewide ballot, even though some voters have expressed confusion about the propositions.
“It almost makes this election more like a midterm exam than a midterm choice,” Galvin said.
So far this election, roughly 1 million voters have cast ballots, either by mail early in-person voting, Galvin said. That includes 776,000 who voted by mail, with hundreds of thousands more ballots still waiting to be filled out and returned.
For voters who still intend to vote by mail, Galvin encourages them to use ballot drop boxes or personally deliver their ballot to their local election officials, rather than the United States Postal Service to make sure their ballot arrives on time. State law allows mail-in ballots to be counted up to three days after polls close, provided they are postmarked by Nov. 8. But Galvin says mail service has been “slow and unreliable.”
Galvin welcomed the possibility that his prediction is incorrect and a surge of voters will send in ballots or show up to the polls in person this week.
Polls in Massachusetts will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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