STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, NOV. 3, 2014…..While absentee ballot requests are down for Democrats and Republicans, they are up for unenrolled voters, Secretary of State William Galvin told reporters Monday, predicting a slightly lower turnout on Tuesday than four years ago.
Galvin predicted 2.26 million voters would cast ballots in the statewide election on Tuesday where there are open races for governor, attorney general and treasurer and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey is running for his first full six-year term.
If Galvin is accurate in his prediction, that would mean 52.5 percent of the 4.3 million registered voters in Massachusetts would turn out for the election. The total number of registered voters includes inactive voters who may have moved away. Unenrolled voters make up 53.2 percent of the state’s registered voters.
“This year what we’ve seen on the absentee ballots is a decline from 2010. It’s declined by about 5,000 as of our last reading, which is statistically significant,” Galvin told reporters Monday afternoon.
The longest-serving statewide elected official, Galvin, a Brighton Democrat, will appear on the ballot opposite Republican challenger David D’Arcangelo and Green-Rainbow candidate Danny Factor.
Galvin said his forecast does not account for efforts by the campaigns to get people to the polls, and said he expected turnout would be higher in Hampden County, where local races and the casino repeal ballot question are creating excitement, and the North Shore, where Republican Richard Tisei and Democrat Seth Moulton are locked in a competitive Congressional contest.
Weather forecasts are predicting a clear and cool day. Galvin declined to comment on the political issues that have swirled around the governor’s race over the past week, but said there are some recent signs that could indicate heightened interest.
“Last few days and particularly today we’ve been getting a lot of calls from people inquiring about are they registered to vote,” Galvin said. “Whether that indicates a late rising interest or not, it’s hard for us to say.”
Galvin said the death of former Boston Mayor Tom Menino has turned some attention to his legacy, while it also may have “amplified the importance of public citizenship.”
After a group in Worcester County made a point of questioning the identification of voters in a recent election, Galvin said he had spoken to people, telling them they need a good reason to seek identification from people attempting to vote.
“They had the right to raise questions, but it became apparent to us pretty quickly that this seemed to be focused on people with Hispanic surnames, so we had them in to explain that you can’t do that,” Galvin said. Galvin said he’d explained to other groups that they are restricted from accompanying people into the voting booth, and said observers cannot interfere with voters.
Evan Falchuk is running for governor with the political designation of the United Independent Party, and Green-Rainbow is fielding candidates with its designation for secretary of state, auditor and treasurer. If any of those statewide candidates reach 3 percent of the vote, those organizations can appear as parties on the 2016 ballot with all the benefits and requirements that accompany that achievement, Galvin said. The Pirate Party doesn’t have a statewide candidate, so is not eligible to become an official party, Galvin said, though it does have candidates for legislative offices.
Any new party will have primary ballots at every polling location, Galvin said.
“We’ll have to kill many trees,” Galvin said. “We do this all the time with the Greens, which is kind of ironic. We have to print ballots even if there’s nothing on them, and we have to print them for every precinct in the state.”
Copyright 2014 State House News Service