Voters in 52 cities and towns across Massachusetts go to the polls Tuesday for various municipal elections.
Boston's mayoral race is expected to draw out more than 100,000 voters. Avi Green of the nonpartisan voting rights group MassVOTE said the contest between Mayor Thomas Menino and City Councilor Michael Flaherty is the most compelling Boston has seen in two decades.
"Michael Flaherty is probably the toughest challenger that Mayor Menino has had in his entire tenure," Green said. "That said, Mayor Menino is a very well known, very well liked, very well organized incumbent."
Boston voters will also elect four at-large city councilors. Polls in Boston are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Voters in Newton, Lawrence and Quincy — among other places — will elect mayors Tuesday.
In Newton, incumbent Mayor David Cohen is stepping down after 12 years, and two candidates vying for the post could make history.
State Rep. Ruth Balser could be the first woman elected to the post, and Setti Warren, a former aide to Sen. John Kerry and an Iraq war veteran, could be the city's first African-American mayor.
Secretary of State William Galvin said even the small contests are especially crucial in this economic downturn.
"In difficult times like these — when you have a shortage of revenue — it really means the choices that these people who are elected will make will literally affect people where they live," Galvin said.
Election monitors from the U.S. Department of Justice will be watching the vote in Springfield and Lowell over concerns about minority voters' rights.
Jess Bidgood contributed to this report.
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This program aired on November 3, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.