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Galvin Predicting Record Democratic Turnout In Tuesday's Massachusetts Presidential Primary

Bill Galvin at a press conference on early voting on Monday, March 2. (Steve Brown/WBUR)
Bill Galvin at a press conference on early voting on Monday, March 2. (Steve Brown/WBUR)

Highly-motivated voters could lead to a record turnout in Massachusetts' presidential primary, said Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin at a pre-election briefing Monday afternoon.

"The unifying factor on the Democratic side is a concern about making sure that President Trump is not re-elected," Galvin told reporters.  "To that end and to the fact that has brought many new independents into the party to participate, I think the turnout tomorrow will be about 1.5 million."

On the Republican side, Galvin is predicting roughly 350,000 ballots will be cast, significantly lower than the 600,000 cast in 2016 before Donald Trump emerged from a crowded Republican field.  Still, Galvin expects a greater GOP turnout than in past years when an incumbent Republican president is running for re-election.

"I point out that Mr. Trump is opposed by  (former Massachusetts governor) Mr. Weld," said Galvin.  "And in addition to that, Mr. Trump has a very loyal group of supporters. In addition, we have local Republican intra-party fights going on, which is going to enhance the turnout a little bit."

This year, for the first time ever, Massachusetts voters were able to vote early in the presidential primary. According to Galvin, more than 190,000 Democratic ballots and 34,000 Republican ballots were cast last week during the five-day early voting period.

If you early voted for a candidate who dropped out, like Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar, you can't change your mind or vote again — all votes are final, said Galvin.

If you voted by absentee ballot, you can call it back, but only if you show up at your usual polling place first thing Tuesday morning and ask for it back. You can then exchange it and vote on a regular ballot. The absentee one would be discarded, said Galvin.

While the weather is expected to be mild and in the mid-50s — ideal conditions for voting — officials are taking precautions over the potential spread of the novel coronavirus.

In an advisory issued early Monday morning to local election officials, Galvin's office urged extra personnel be available should poll workers decide not to attend, although Galvin said he is hopeful all poll workers will show up as scheduled. The office also urged local election officials to periodically clean down voting booths.

"We also have recognized that the one common piece of equipment that might be used is the pen," said Galvin. "So we're suggesting that local election officials have extra pens, replace the pens, but also allow and encourage voters who might be concerned to bring their own pen."

If you're going to bring your own pen, Galvin said to make sure the pen has blue or black ink so it can be correctly read by the optical scanners.

As for the handful of people who may be self-quarantining themselves after traveling to places where there has been an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Galvin said they will be treated as if they are hospitalized: they will be to arrange to have an absentee ballot brought to them, and have that ballot hand-returned to the polling place to be counted.

Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Get everything you need to know from our voters' guide.

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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