By Paul Burton

BOSTON (CBS) – Ballot boxes in Boston were very busy again on Saturday, as Massachusetts residents continued casting their votes for the November election at a high rate.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, 47.4 percent of all registered voters in Massachusetts have already voted by mail or in person. As of Saturday, the total number of early voters is 2,559,706. The number of ballots cast right now is equal to 67.6 percent of all ballots cast in the 2016 election.

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Before Boston’s ballot boxes closed at 5 p.m. on Saturday, voters told WBZ-TV that they believed the stakes for the election were high.

“I think it’s really important in terms of preserving the American democracy,” said voter JP Muneks of Boston.

William Watkins, the Director of Workforce Development for the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts and a member of an organization called the 1619 Project, says racial inequality, unemployment and health disparities are all at stake. He and his organization are heavily focused on getting undecided people out to vote and protecting ballot boxes in Boston.

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“This time here, I really do believe this one is the most important vote that we will ever cast in our lifetime,” Watkins said. “There is an empty chair at the table because of COVID. And black and brown communities have suffered enough.”

With only a few days to go before the election, people are still casting their mail-in ballots now to avoid the long Election Day lines on Nov. 3.

“I think it’s really important that [voters] do some research, and get out in vote, no matter what,” voter Stephanie Segall said.

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Ballot boxes in Boston will be opened again at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

Paul Burton