By Joe Mathieu, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (CBS) – The man who oversees elections in Massachusetts is essentially confirming what most people already thought – there is a major lack of interest in the special U.S. Senate race.

A good predictor of voter turnout is the number of requested absentee ballots. They often give us a good idea of how many might show up on Election Day.

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Secretary of State Bill Galvin says they have more than 53,000 applications for absentee ballots – roughly 20,000 fewer than at this time in the special election of 2010. That’s of course when Scott Brown ran against Martha Coakley.

And I think we can all agree this is no Brown-Coakley race.

But the real question is why?

And the answers seem to vary depending on who you ask.

Secretary Galvin is offering several. He says we’re distracted from any number of things from summer vacations to the Stanley Cup Final to the Whitey Bulger trial.

That’s a lot of stuff. But it seems to me the secretary may have left out a few things.

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Like voter fatigue following a long and brutal general election year.

Like the fact that there’s no overriding issue to get people fired up. Like health care reform did in 2010.

But here’s the tough part. And I want to tread carefully here. The fact is neither candidate – Ed Markey or Gabriel Gomez – has succeeded in inspiring people. Making them feel like they’re part of a cause. A mission to affect change.

Those are the things that mobilize people.

That’s not to say the candidates haven’t worked hard to win people’s votes. They have.

But inspiring them – in a way that transcends politics – is something very different.

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You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeMathieuWBZ