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Massachusetts could set new record for voter turnout, Galvin says

Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin spoke to the mediaPat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Massachusetts voters appear to be turning out in record numbers Tuesday, according to Secretary of State William Galvin. He said Election Day 2020 has so far not been marred by any major snafus, mechanical or manmade.

"It’s been a good day so far,'' Galvin said.

In a telephone interview around 1:45 p.m., Galvin said a surge of voters were outside polling places when they opened at 7 a.m., but the stream has since slowed to a persistent, steady, flow of voters.

However, he said that will certainly change during the historic peak voting time - dinner time - especially in cities where participation in the expanded use of mail-in balloting and early voting was not widespread. In Brockton, for example, he said participation was just 20 percent.


"Will we see another surge tonight? My guess is that we will,'' Galvin said.

Voters hit the polls in Boston
Roxbury voters headed to the polls on Election Day 2020. (Shelby Lum/Globe Staff)

He said voters appear to be keeping to historic patterns - a surge in the morning, a surge around noontime and the final wave around dinner time.

Galvin on Monday predicted 3.6 million votes will be cast from a list of 4.8 million voters. However, he said, the turnout is higher than even he expected and he now expects turnout to break the record set in 2016 with the 3.6 million votes.

"Three six for sure, and maybe a little more than that,'' he said.

He said no major issues have been reported statewide due to machine failures at the polls, or because of tensions between supporters of the presidential campaign between President Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee.'

Polls close statewide at 8 p.m. And Galvin stressed that anyone who is in the line at that time will still have the opportunity to have their voice heard.


"At eight o’clock what’s going to happen is people waiting in line, a police officer is going to be placed at the end of the line,'' Galvin said. “Everyone who is in line whether its nine o’clock or later will be allowed to vote.”

Gov. Charlie Baker said during an afternoon briefing Tuesday that “the big challenge that I’ve gotten when I’ve talked to some of the local folks is just the work they’ve got to do to count votes, given the amount of volume they’re all going to be dealing with.”

He said officials are having regular conversations regarding post-election safety.

“I think our view on this one is to be prepared to support local communities if they ask for our help,” Baker said. “And our hope is that whatever happens will be followed by what we would describe as peaceful and appropriate celebrations, protests, demonstrations. Whatever term you might want for them. But we do want to be there to support local communities if they think they need assistance to maintain the peace.”

John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him @JREbosglobe. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.