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Everything you need to know about Thursday’s primary elections

Voters in Massachusetts go to the polls Thursday to cast ballots in primary elections.Matt Rourke/Associated Press/File/Associated Press

RELATED: Results from Thursday’s primary elections

Massachusetts voters could be forgiven for not realizing there is a state primary this week. For starters, it’s being held on a Thursday: Sept. 8. And the contested races are few and far between. Looking for a quick primer? Here’s everything you need to know:

Why in the world is the election on a Thursday?

State primaries are generally held on Tuesdays, but Labor Day created a problem this year. The primary has to be held early enough in September to get general-election ballots printed and sent to overseas voters in time to meet federal rules. Holding the primary on the Tuesday after Labor Day would have meant communities paying workers overtime to set up polling places on a holiday. Thus, a Thursday vote. Got that? It’s happened before: The 2012 state primary was also held on a Thursday.


Which primary can I vote in?

There are four parties with Massachusetts primaries on Sept. 8: Republican, Democratic, Green-Rainbow, and United Independent. If you are registered as a member of a party, you can vote only in that party’s primary. If you are an “unenrolled” or “independent” voter, you can choose the ballot of any party you wish.

Is it too late to register to vote?

Yes. The deadline to sign up to vote in this primary has passed. Unlike some states, Massachusetts does not offer same-day registration.

What about early voting?

Massachusetts recently established an early-voting program. But it doesn’t apply to primaries. There will be an early-voting period before the November general election.

When are the polls open?

Polling places across the state must be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., though communities can also choose to open earlier than 7.

Where do I vote?

Click here to find your polling place.

Who’s on the ballot?

There are party primaries for members of Congress, members of the state Legislature, governor’s councilors, county sheriff, county commissioner, and register of deeds across the state. Neither of the state’s two US senators are up for election this year, and none of the nine Democrats representing Massachusetts in the US House drew a party challenger. You can find a complete list of primary candidates, arranged by party, by clicking here. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting races:


Norfolk, Bristol & Plymouth Senate seat

Embattled state Senator Brian Joyce’s announcement that he would not run for reelection drew two Democrats interested in succeeding him: Walter Timilty and Nora Harrington, both of Milton.

Seventh Norfolk House seat

With Timilty running for the state Senate, his open House seat has drawn a large crowd of Democrats hoping to replace him: Jason Adams and James Burgess Jr. of Randolph; and William Driscoll Jr., Tony Farrington, Kerby Roberson, Denise Swenson, and Michael Zullas of Milton.

Second Middlesex Senate seat

Longtime Democratic Senator Patricia Jehlen of Somerville drew a primary challenge from Leland Cheung, a Cambridge city councilor who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2014.

Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden Senate seat

With Senator Ben Downing’s retirement, three Democrats are vying for his seat: Rinaldo Del Gallo of Lenox, Andrea Harrington of Richmond, and Adam Hinds of Pittsfield.

Seventh Suffolk House seat

The retirement of Representative Gloria Fox of Boston, the only African-American woman serving in the Massachusetts House, has drawn a trio of Democrats eager to replace her: Monica Cannon, Marydith Tuitt, and Chynah Tyler.

Suffolk register of deeds

The obscure but well-paying job is open after the resignation this year of longtime register Francis “Mickey” Roache, and the Democratic primary has drawn seven candidates: Douglas Bennett, Stephanie Everett, Katherine Forde, Michael Mackan, Stephen Murphy, Paul Nutting Jr., and Jeffrey Michael Ross. If you live in Boston, you’ve surely seen the signs..


Hampden sheriff

Democrats in the Springfield area have a spirited four-way race for sheriff. The candidates include Michael Albano, Thomas Ashe, Nick Cocchi, and John Griffin.

Essex sheriff

How many candidates are running? Six Democrats and five Republicans are vying in primaries to replace Frank Cousins. The candidates include Democrats William Castro, Kevin Coppinger, Michael Marks, Edward O’Reilly, Jerry Robito, and Paul Russell Jr.; and Republicans Kenneth Berg, Jeffrey Gallo, James Jajuga Jr., Craig Lane, and Anne Manning-Marti.

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