With the sun beaming down and temperatures in the 70s, it was an ideal day for voting. But turnout was expected to be low in today's Massachusetts primary elections.
Secretary of State William F. Galvin predicted that 600,000 to 700,000 people would vote statewide, or 14 to 17 percent of the 4.15 million voters registered statewide. That is more than in the 2008 primaries, but less than in the 2006 primaries when there was a race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, said Galvin spokesman Brian McNiff.
In the traditional political hotbed of South Boston, at the Foley Apartments, a Boston Housing Authority complex for the disabled and elderly, poll workers reported 97 voters had been processed through the polling place on H Street by 8:15 a.m.
Heading into the polling place, voters passed by nearly 20 supporters for a number of candidates – including two women who have special knowledge about two candidates in the Democratic state representative primary.
"I'm his mother,'' said Mary McCarthy Collins, whose son, Nick, is one of four Democratic candidates for an open state representative seat. "It's a very exciting day for us, and for the community.''
Mary McCarthy Collins said she first voted at her South Boston polling place nearby and then took her post outside the Foley Apartments – just a few feet away from another candidate's mom, Cat Bombard, who held a sign for her son, Jacob.
"He's extremely bright. He knows the issues. He knows the budget back and forth,'' Cat Bombard said. "He can get the job done. He's 23 and he wants to make a difference in people's lives.''
"I think all the mothers are out today," Bombard added.
Collins and Bombard are competing with Mark McGonagle and Michael McGee in the Democratic primary. At 30, McGonagle is the oldest candidate.
By 6 p.m., the city's election office reported that 43,730 people had voted, representing just 11.93 percent of registered voters in the city. Turnout was highest in Ward 20, in West Roxbury and Roslindale, where 22.98 percent of voters turned out. Polls closed statewide at 8 p.m.
At the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center, only 24 people had voted by 9 a.m. But city election worker Peggie Flynn said most in her precinct vote at the end of the day. She also noted that today is expected to be warm, sunny and dry.
"It's a nice day, so there is no excuse'' not to vote, she said at the polling place on Dorchester Avenue.
Voters have a lot of choices on today's ballot. Both parties are picking candidates for the open 10th Congressional District seat and Republicans have mounted primary battles in some parts of the state where there has not been a GOP candidate, much less a primary, for years.
According to the secretary of state’s office, more GOP absentee ballots have been requested than usual.
Today's ballot also features contested primary races in both the Democratic and Republican parties for state auditor, an opening created by the impending retirement of long-time Democratic incumbent Joe DeNucci.
In the state treasurer's race, Democrats will choose between businessman and Democratic Party stalwart Steven Grossman and Boston City Councilor Stephen Murphy.
Contested races are also being held for state Senate, House, and Governor's Council seats.
At the Bowditch school building on Green Street in Jamaica Plain, self-described "loyal Democrat'' Margaret Blood said the race for treasurer is one reason she voted today.
"We want someone who has really good fiscal management skills and who can make the best of state resources,'' said the 52-year-old Blood, a former legislative aide. "It’s just good to see there is a number of candidates for that position.''
Also at the Bowditch, Brinton Lykes, 61, said she wanted to make sure her voice is heard, especially in the Democratic primary race between incumbent state Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and challenger Hassan A. Williams.
"She represents a host of issues that represent this constituency, such as health care and rights for gay and lesbians,'' Lykes said, in explaining her support for Chang-Diaz, who is finishing her first term in office. "I was doing my civic duty in voting.''
Catherine Amory, who also voted in Jamaica Plain, said she considered the national election to have a greater impact on everyday life than today's state primary.
Yet the 63-year-year-old Jamaica Plain resident said she believes it is her civic responsibility to vote in every election.
"I believe we ought to vote,'' she said. "We ought to do many things to better our culture. At the least, we should vote to show we care.''
Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Joanne Rathe / Globe Staff
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