MILTON -- Just minutes after the polls opened at the St. Mary of the Hills school here, Mark White was marking his ballot for a man his family knows socially from the neighborhood, incumbent Democratic Governor Deval Patrick.
"I just feel he needs more time'' to put his policies into action, White said of Patrick.
Plus, the 21-year old accounting major at Stonehill College in Easton, added, "I am not a big fan of (Republican nominee) Charlie Baker.''
Secretary of State William Galvin is predicting that today's election may set a record for turnout -- and the 50 people already in line at a middle school in Plymouth may be proof of that. A short distance away, Richard Barbieri stood outside Plymouth Town Hall, holding a large sign for Senate President Therese Murray, a Plymouth Democrat.
Barbieri said he plans to vote for Patrick a little later today.
"I don't know much about polls,'' said Barbieri, a Plymouth native and union carpenter who voted for Governor Deval Patrick, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate. "But he straightened out the underground economy and prosecuted the violators. (Attorney General) Martha Coakley was in on that, too.''
Across the street from the Democrats, retired Plymouth police officer Bob Powers was holding signs supporting Baker and incumbent Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz, a Republican.
Powers said he believes the Republican candidates have sparked the curiousity of voters, and not just those who are registered Republicans. "I think it's the change,'' Powers said. "I think they (voters backing GOP candidates) are sending the message, 'vote out the old school and see what happens.' ''
He added, "I think people are listening to what the candidates are saying, not voting blue or red.''
Republicans may also be buoyed by what was observed happening across the street from where Barbieri stood.
A woman was holding a small sign for Republican Jeff Perry, who is running for the open 10th Congressional District seat against Democrat William R. Keating -- and the majority of voters driving past showed support for Perry with a wave and a beep of the horn.
Barbieri, the Democratic signholder, said voters aren't ignoring him. "I'm getting some beeps. I'm getting some waves,'' he said. "I'm also getting the finger. But that's America.''
According to the National Weather Service, most of Massachusetts today will have a classic autumnal New England day with sunshine moderated by temperatures ranging from the high 40s and into the 50s. Scattered showers are projected for areas of Cape Cod, but no serious weather patterns are foreseen for today, according to the NWS.
Baker was to vote in his hometown of Swampscott this morning. Independent candidate Timothy Cahill will vote in his hometown of Quincy and Rainbow Green Party candidate Jill Stein will head to the polls in Lexington.
Galvin's turnout prediction is based on the intense attention being given to the governor's race, strong statewide campaigns from both parties for state constitutional offices, unusually combative races in some congressional districts and ballot questions on alcohol tax, the sales tax and affordable housing rules.
The Globe reported today that the state Democratic party leaders are planning an massive get-out-the vote effort today, still smarting from the unexpected victory in January of Republican Scott Brown, who defeated Attorney General Martha Coakley in the race to succeed the late Edward M. Kennedy in the US Senate.
Galvin told the Globe he expects 2.4 million registered voters to head to the polls today, a turnout that has not been seen in a nonpresidential year since 1990 when Massachusetts' economy was struggling as it is now.
Galvin said he based his prediction, in part, on the fact that more than 132,000 voters had already filled out ballots. In January, when Brown was elected, 2.25 million voters participated in that election, 107,000 of them absentee voters.
Brown and former Gov. Mitt Romney made repeated campaign appearances on behalf of Republican candidates, and political scientists are watching the election to see if the GOP will be able to challenge the Democratic grip on state politics in the near future.
Statewide, voters today will also decide three ballot questions. Question 1 would eliminate the sales tax on alcohol. Question 2 would repeal the state's affordable housing law. Question 3 would cut the state's sales tax rate by more than half.
In races for Congress, the 10th Congressional District contest between Democrat William R. Keating and Republican Jeff Perry has drawn the attention of the state Democratic party, which is planning an aggressive get-out-the vote campaign in a district marbled with Republican strongholds.
US Rep. Barney Frank of Newton tapped $200,000 of his retirement fund to help pay for his reelection fight with Republican Sean Bielat in the 4th Congressional District, which runs from Newton south towards Fall River.
In Boston, city election officials are promising a smoothly run operation and vow that enough ballots will be on hand even if all 370,805 voters are at the polls today. Bilingual election officials will be available for voters who speak Mandarin and Cantonese, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, Cape Verdean Criolo and Russian, the city said in a statement.
State lawmakers will also be on local ballots.
Polls close at 8 p.m. and results on local races, and some statewide issues, are expected to be announced shortly afterwards.
All four gubernatorial candidates are holding election night parties in Boston, according to their campaigns.