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Massachusetts voters head to the polls on Super Tuesday

A voter casts his ballot and receives a sticker at East Boston High School March 5, 2024. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
A voter casts his ballot and receives a sticker at East Boston High School March 5, 2024. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Voters in Massachusetts are hitting the polls Tuesday to cast their ballot in the state’s presidential primaries. The commonwealth is one of 15 states and a U.S. territory voting on what is known as Super Tuesday, the busiest day of the 2024 presidential primary season. (Voting also ends today in the Iowa Democrats’ mail-in caucus.)

More than 479,000 Bay Staters already submitted their ballots by mail ahead of Election Day, according to the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office. Another 51,000 residents voted in-person early. Polls in the state opened in many municipalities at 7 a.m.; they close at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

President Biden and former President Donald Trump are expected to emerge victorious after the polls close. Both candidates have respectively won all, or all-but-one, primary or caucus contests so far. (Nikki Haley won Washington D.C.’s primary over the weekend.)

In primaries, political parties award candidates a number of delegates based on their performance at the polls. Candidates need a certain number of delegates to win their party’s nomination. (Here’s an interactive map of primary results across the U.S., as well as the latest tally of delegates.)

Ahead of Massachusetts’ primaries, Secretary of State Bill Galvin said he expected a “reasonably good” turnout, but noted that with few challengers keeping either of the races competitive turnout will likely be far lower than it was for the state’s last presidential primary in 2020.

“When you look at the turnouts in terms of the presidential primary, it very much depends upon the circumstances of the race,” Galvin told reporters at a press conference Monday. “So on the Democratic side, four years ago, we had a very active race, very uncertain race, and we had a record turnout — well over 1.4 million.”

More than 362,000 Democratic votes were cast early, according to totals from Galvin’s office Tuesday morning as the polls opened. He said Monday that he expects Democratic turnout to ultimately exceed 600,000.

Galvin’s office also tallied more than 171,000 Republican ballots cast early as of Tuesday. In the Monday press conference, Galvin called early turnout among Republican primary voters “impressive” considering there are far fewer GOP party members in the state than Democrats. He predicted more than 400,000 voters would end up casting ballots in the Republican primary.

Lastly, his office said that, as of Tuesday morning, more than 6,400 Libertarians voted early.

As Galvin offered turnout predictions Monday, he also briefly noted the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision Monday to restore Trump’s name on Colorado’s primary ballot. (The state’s primaries will also be held Tuesday.) Galvin’s counterpart in Maine reversed her previous decision to keep Trump off the primary ballot following the high court’s ruling.

“This morning’s decision makes it all the more important that those voters who have opinions on the presidency take the opportunity to express them,” he said.

In Massachusetts, some pro-Palestinian activists have mounted a campaign for Democratic voters to select “no preference” on their ballots to protest Biden’s support of Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza. The siege has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians since October. The effort follows a similar movement in Michigan that garnered more than 100,000 “uncommitted” votes, prompting a high-level Biden campaign staffer to say “He’s received that message many, many times.”

Galvin said he was “aware” of the effort, noting voters selection of “no preference” could indeed impact how many delegates end up apportioned to candidates.

Essentially, if enough voters select “no preference,” a delegate may be assigned to that option, Galvin said. The Massachusetts Democratic Party awards delegates proportionally, but any ballot option would need at least 15% of the vote to receive delegates.

Down the ballot, races for state and municipal party committee are gaining attention in Massachusetts. That’s particularly the case within the GOP race, where committee races have strong implications for the future leadership of the state Republican Party. While committee positions are not governing roles, those who win them help shape party messaging and goals.

Last year, Amy Carnevale, a lobbyist from Marblehead, became the Republican Party chair, beating incumbent chair and Trump ally Jim Lyons by three votes. This year’s elections will decide whether supporters of Carnevale or Lyons makeup the majority within the party.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2024 WBUR. To see more, visit WBUR.

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