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Galvin Predicts 2.4 Million Voters Will Turn Out For Mass. Election

A voter in Cambridge (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
A voter in Cambridge (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Secretary of State William Galvin on Monday projected at least 2.4 million voters in Massachusetts will cast a ballot in this year's election.

Already, Galvin said 585,000 people took advantage of the state's early voting period, which ran from Oct. 22 to Friday. Election Day is Tuesday.

There are currently 4,574,967 registered voters in Massachusetts, including those considered "inactive" because they haven't voted in recent elections.

Speaking to reporters, Galvin credited an interest in national politics for the slightly stepped up participation, compared with recent midterm elections. This year's projected participation would rival the record midterm turnout in the Bay State, back in 1990, when 2.42 million voters cast ballots.

"It's not necessarily the intensity of some of the statewide contests because, candidly, some of them aren't very intense, or the absence of legislative contests because there are many areas that have no legislative contests," said Galvin, a Democrat who's facing a Republican challenger himself this year.

Galvin predicted interest in some of the ballot questions, especially Question 1, on nurse staffing levels, is contributing to voter interest. Local ballot questions in Belmont, Needham and Newton are also driving up turnout in those areas.

As for early voting, Galvin appears satisfied with the practice, which was first introduced during the 2016 election. While over 1 million voters cast ballots early in 2016, Galvin is quick to point out that was a presidential year, when turnout is always higher. Galvin says party breakdown for early voting appears to mirror party registration, with early voters being 36 percent Democrat, 9 to 10 percent Republican, with the remainder being unenrolled in a party. Galvin said most early voting took place in predominately suburban districts.

Separately, the city of Boston said about 28,000 voters cast their ballots early, which is not even 7 percent of the city's registered voters.

Galvin did indicate there have been some unsuccessful minor efforts to hack into voting systems.

"It's important to point out all of our ballots in Massachusetts are paper ballots or card ballots," he said. "Secondly, our voter registration information is not on the internet, so it reduces our exposure. Nevertheless we've been very vigilant."

Information about the hack attempts has been turned over to federal and state law enforcement authorities, he said.

Galvin's opponent in Tuesday's election was quick to criticize the incumbent for the attempts. Republican candidate Anthony Amore issued a statement, saying: "Voters should know that Secretary Galvin had every opportunity since 2016 to safeguard our elections against hacking but instead chose to let the midterms pass by without any improvements to our election security systems."

Amore is encouraging voters to bring an ID to the polls just in case it is needed, even though ID is not required to vote in Massachusetts.

Galvin said his office is monitoring the election systems all the time, and has taken advantage of federal funds to safeguard elections.

Polls in Massachusetts are required to be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., although some polling places may choose to open earlier.

If you're voting , here are some useful links:

Remember that state law, updated last more than a century ago, mandates that employees who ask to vote during work hours "be granted a leave of absence to vote during the two hours after the polls open in their districts" — though you might not get paid for those hours. Employers can also ask employees to prove they voted by asking them to disclose their precinct.

With additional reporting from WBUR's Lisa Creamer

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Steve Brown Twitter Senior Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.

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