Secretary of State Says Merrimack Valley Races Could Push Up Turnout for Primary Election Tomorrow

Secretary of State William F. Galvin gestures to a county-level map showing the 2020 Census results. (Photograph by Sam Doran/SHNS.)

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Secretary of State William F. Galvin is forecasting that about 850,000 ballots will be cast in tomorrow’s Democratic primary contests and more than 300,000 votes will be registered in the GOP contests.

Galvin offered his predictions late last week as early voting was ending. He said Merrimack Valley races as well as local contests in Brockton and Worcester could push turnout up. However, a dearth of races in Plymouth County is likely to tamp down turnout in that region.

All eyes locally are watching three Democrats seek the radically reconfigured 1st Essex District senate seat with no Republican opponent in November. They are Pavel Payano and Doris V. Rodriguez, both of Lawrence, and Eunice D. Zeigler of Methuen. The district, designed to elect majority minority candidates, includes downtown Haverhill, Methuen and Lawrence.

The 4th Essex District state representative seat features three democrats in competition. They are former Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua, Methuen City Councilor James McCarty; and Lawrence City Councilor Estela A. Reyes. The district was also designed during last year’s redistricting to be a minority majority seat. The 16th Essex District finds incumbent Rep. Marcos A. Devers of Lawrence facing Francisco E. Paulino of Methuen in the Democratic primary.

The state’s top election official said voters not aligned with either major party are active this year, with unenrolled voters accounting for more than 50% of the mail-in ballots requested. About 22 percent of the independents who have requested ballots have asked for Republican ballots, he said, a high level that he said could be a sign that unenrolled voters may want a say in the big race on the GOP ballot, the governor’s primary between Geoff Diehl and Chris Doughty.

Galvin applauded the vote-by-mail reform, saying more than 374,000 of the roughly 700,000 ballots sought have already been returned, a number that changes by the hour. With the primary election, Galvin urged anyone using a vote-by-mail ballot to use a dropbox at this late hour in the election cycle in order to ensure that their ballot is received by tomorrow’s 8 p.m. deadline.

Forecasting turnout, Galvin said, is difficult since vote-by-mail and early voting reforms were not in place for the 2018 primaries. Numerous polls have shown large numbers of likely primary voters say they are undecided about the candidates, and Galvin suggested that some of those voters just might not vote at all.

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