BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts voters have handed the state’s 11 electoral votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton, legalized recreational marijuana and rejected a charter school expansion.
The state’s support of Clinton was expected. The last GOP presidential candidate to win the Bay State was Ronald Reagan in 1984. Neither Clinton nor Republican Donald Trump spent much time campaigning in the state.
Voter turnout was high. In Boston, the voter turnout as of 6 p.m. was over 227,000 — more than 12,000 above the 2012 tally at the same time. This year was also the first time Massachusetts voters could cast their ballots early. More than 1 million votes were cast before Election Day.
Liz Burg, a 22-year-old web designer in Cambridge, voted Tuesday morning at Cambridge City Hall. She’s a Democrat and voted for Clinton.
“Today I voted for Hillary Clinton because to me it’s an obvious choice. It’s either freedom for all or not freedom for all,” Burg said. “For me, I don’t feel safe with any other option. And it would be awesome to see the first female president tonight.”
Civil rights groups reported long lines, broken voting machines and other common Election Day issues across the state, but said election officials appear to be promptly responding to them as they come up.
Meryl Kessler, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, said there were reports of “excessively long lines” at polling locations in Boston and that broken voting machines were reported in Boston, Springfield, Lawrence, New Bedford and Chelsea.
The most hotly contested battles were over the four ballot questions.
Voters rejected Question 2, which asked them to allow the state board of education to approve up to 12 new or expanded charter schools each year. Supporters and opponents of the question poured close to $40 million into the campaign.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker had said the question would help expand educational opportunities, especially to lower income areas and minority students.
“I am proud to have joined with thousands of parents, teachers and education reformers in a worthwhile campaign to provide more education choices for students stuck in struggling districts,” he said. “While Question 2 was not successful, the importance of that goal is unchanged.”
Critics, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and teacher’s union, said it would drain money away from traditional public schools.
“The people of Massachusetts have clearly and overwhelmingly rejected the expansion of a separate and unequal education system,” said Juan Cofield, chair of the Campaign to Save Our Public Schools.
Voters approved Question 4, which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
The question’s supporters said it would let those 21 years old or older possess up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use and allow the home cultivation of up to 12 marijuana plants.
“Our prison systems are filled with people with petty crimes,” said Alex MacRae, a 29-year-old South Boston resident who voted in favor of the question. “And I think this would help to start to solve that problem. It’s a big issue that we’ve got to tackle, but it’s a step in the right direction to not put those people in jail.”
But opponents, including Baker, Walsh and Attorney General Maura Healey, worried that legalizing pot could open the door to more dangerous drugs. They said they’re particularly concerned given the state’s ongoing opioid overdose crisis.
“It’s just a gateway drug,” James Dalabon, a 53-year-old South Boston resident and recovering alcoholic. “That’s how people start: When they start doing drugs, they start with marijuana, then they go with alcohol, then they go with cocaine, then they eventually do the heroin. I voted no on that.”
There were two other ballot questions in Massachusetts.
Voters defeated Question 1 which would have authorized the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to license a second slots parlor in the state, likely located near the Suffolk Downs racetrack.
On Question 3, voters decisively approved a ban on the sale of eggs and other food products that come from farms where animals are confined to overly restrictive cages.
“Implementing Question 3 will prevent animal cruelty and improve food safety for Massachusetts families,” said Stephanie Harris, Yes on 3 campaign director.
Critics said the question would add to the cost of eggs and other products.
There were also a handful of congressional contests, with several Democratic incumbent beating back challengers.
In the state’s 1st Congressional District, which covers much of the western part of the state including Springfield, Rep. Richard Neal fended off challenges by Libertarian candidate Thomas Simmons and Independent candidate Frederick Mayock.
In the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Lowell and Lawrence, Rep. Niki Tsongas defeated Republican challenger Ann Wofford.
In the 4th Congressional District, which stretches from Brookline and Newton to Taunton and Fall River, Rep. Joe Kennedy bested Republican David Rosa.
In the 8th Congressional District, which includes portions of Boston, Brockton and Quincy, Republican William Burke failed to unseat Rep. Stephen Lynch.
In the 9th Congressional District, which covers Cape Cod, Rep. William Keating has defeated four challengers: Republican Mark Alliegro, Independent Paul Harrington and two candidates not affiliated with a party, Christopher Cataldo and Anna Grace Raduc.
Associated Press reporters Collin Binkley and Philip Marcelo in Boston contributed to this report.
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