Strong Voter Turnout Leads To Long Lines At Polls
BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Massachusetts voters have been heading to the polls in large numbers this Election Day, faced with a raft of decisions — from picking a president and a U.S. senator, to deciding ballot questions and electing members of Congress and the Legislature.
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The most closely watched contest is the race pitting Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Scott Brown against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. It’s the most expensive political contest in Massachusetts history.
Voters also will choose between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama and decide the fate of ballot questions that would legalize medical marijuana, allow physician-assisted suicide and overhaul car repair rules.
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Brown and Warren stood in line before casting their votes shortly after polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday in their hometowns.
Brown waited in line with his family at Wrentham Middle School before voting.
Warren was accompanied by her husband and more than a dozen other family members when she voted at the Graham Parks School in Cambridge.
Both candidates have plans to spend the rest of the day visiting other polling places and phone banks before settling in to wait for results.
The candidates combined have spent a record $68 million on the campaign, but an unusual agreement Brown and Warren reached to keep outside groups from advertising held through the end of the campaign.
Romney drew high security when he and his wife, Ann, cast their ballots in the Boston suburb of Belmont they still call home. They were then off to Ohio and Pennsylvania for last-day campaigning in key swing states.
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin on Monday projected 3.1 million of the state’s roughly 4.2 million registered voters, about 73 percent, will go to the polls, matching the turnout in 2008, the last presidential election year.
His prediction was borne out as long lines were reported at many polling places.
Galvin said Tuesday that reports from around Massachusetts point to a strong voter turnout, and that his earlier prediction that turnout could match or possibly exceed the record 3.1 million voters who cast ballots in the 2008 presidential election was still within reach.
Boston has registered 28,930 new voters since September’s primary. Statewide since February, nearly 232,000 new voters have been added to the Massachusetts rolls.
In Boston, more than 26 percent of registered voters had cast ballots by noon, but the total was down slightly from the same time in 2008.
Galvin said most reports of voting problems were relatively minor.
In Billerica, for example, workers at one polling place became concerned that they might run out of ballots. A police car, lights flashing, was dispatched to deliver more ballots and no one was denied a chance to vote.
Question 1 would require automakers to share diagnostic and repair information with independent mechanics, while Question 2 would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication at the request of certain terminally ill patients.
Question 3 would allow marijuana to be used for some medical purposes.
There are also a number of high-profile congressional races on the ballot.
Voters in the open 4th Congressional District will choose between Democrat Joseph Kennedy III and Republican Sean Bielat.
The fiercest congressional contest is in the 6th District, where Republican Richard Tisei is challenging Rep. John Tierney. If he wins, Tisei would be the first Massachusetts Republican elected to the House since 1994. He has said he also would be the first openly gay Republican candidate to be elected to the House.
Voters also will be choosing state senators and state representatives, although Democrats’ firm hold on power in the Massachusetts Legislature seems unlikely to be loosened, with Republican candidates running for less than half of the legislative seats.
Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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