Republican Jim Ogonowski started the morning at Dunkin' Donuts in Lowell, Dream Diner in Tyngsborough, and Skips Restaurant in Chelmsford. Democrat Niki Tsongas has imported from New Hampshire campaign volunteers from Barack Obama's presidential campaign to hold signs for her throughout the district.
Throughout the Fifth Congressional District, campaign volunteers today have been standing at intersections, street corners. They are imploring people to vote for the person on their sign, but they really just want people to vote.
Poll workers and election observers say turnout has been low for the special election held the day after Labor Day.
"It's been very light," said Brian McNiff, spokesman for the Secretary of State's office.
"Well, we have not been over-loaded," said Nelson Powers, a warden at the Hunt Recreation Center in Concord, where about 40 voters checked their ballots over an hour this morning. By noon, about 10 percent of the 2,000 voters in the precinct had cast a ballot.
Of nearly a dozen interviewed, few cited any overriding issue that drove them to the polls. Several apologized for their limited knowledge about the race, saying they took advice from friends on who to cast their vote for.
"I don't know," said one man, who voted for Tsongas. "I've seem more of her signs than the others."
In the primary, there are five Democrats -- Tsongas, Eileen Donoghue, Jamie Eldirdge, Barry Finegold, and Jim Miceli -- and two Republicans -- Ogonowski and Thomas Tierney. They are vying to replace former US representative Martin T. Meehan, who stepped down after 14-plus years in Congress to become chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
"We've done as much as we can do," Tsongas said as she stood with about a dozen supporters on a street corner in Concord. "Now, it's up to the voters."
Polls close tonight at 8.