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Early Voting Kicks Off In Massachusetts Primary Election

Voters stand in line six feet apart outside the Boston Public Library on the first day of early voting, Aug. 22, for the Massachusetts primary. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Voters stand in line six feet apart outside the Boston Public Library on the first day of early voting, Aug. 22, for the Massachusetts primary. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Voters can begin casting ballots in the state’s primary election at early voting locations across the state Saturday. (Saturday is also the last day to register to vote in the primary.)

It’s the first time early voting has been available for a state primary in Massachusetts. Early voting will continue through Aug. 28. The primary is on Sept. 1.

Voters received temperature checks before entering the Boston Public Library to vote. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Voters received temperature checks before entering the Boston Public Library to vote. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The city of Boston has put health and safety protocols in place because of the pandemic, including providing poll workers with face shields, face masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes and spray, and hand sanitizer. Each voting site will be cleaned every two to three hours. Voters are advised to stand six feet apart in line and wear face masks.

At the Boston Public Library in Copley Square, monitors were present to give temperature checks before voters entered the building. Over in Allston at Jackson Mann School, people waited out some light drizzle to vote.

Fred Hapgood, who was voting at Jackson Mann, said he was curious what the early voting operation would look like.

"I just wanted to experience it so I came down to check it out firsthand."

The first early voters wait in a spaced-out line at Jackson Mann School in Allston midday on Saturday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The first early voters wait in a spaced-out line at Jackson Mann School in Allston midday on Saturday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Sister Patricia Andrews, who voted at Jackson Mann, says she would have voted by mail if she could have. The 75-year-old nun says she put in for a mail-in ballot at the end of last month and still hasn't gotten it.

"This is what angers me at this point: People are trying to do what is their responsibility and their duty and there are so many obstacles. I'm here because I'm afraid my vote won't go in."

Voters who submitted applications to vote by mail don’t have to wait for their ballots to arrive in order to vote. If they haven’t mailed back their ballot, they can still vote in person during the early voting period or on Sept. 1, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said.

Galvin is also encouraging voters to hand deliver their mail-in ballots if they can instead of dropping them in the mail. Galvin, a Democrat, said that’s the best way to guarantee that a ballot will be counted. Ballots can be dropped off at early voting locations.

Voters are ushered in one-at-a-time at Jacskson Mann School on the first day of early voting for the Massachusetts primary. A drop box was placed by the entrance of the polling location for those opting to vote-by-mail to drop off their ballots. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Voters are ushered in one-at-a-time at Jacskson Mann School on the first day of early voting for the Massachusetts primary. A drop box was placed by the entrance of the polling location for those opting to vote-by-mail to drop off their ballots. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Ballots must reach each voter’s local election office by 8 p.m. on Sept. 1 in order to be counted. It’s not good enough just to have the ballot postmarked by that date.

Voters can find early voting locations and ballot drop boxes in their communities by going to the secretary of the commonwealth’s website.

The most closely-watched race on the primary ballot in Massachusetts pits challenger U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy lll against fellow Democratic U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, the incumbent.

Among those casting early votes is Kennedy, who is planning to vote in his hometown of Newton on Saturday.

With reporting by WBUR's Quincy Walters and the Associated Press

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