Massachusetts’ top elections official said Monday he expects between 100,000 and 110,000 Boston voters to cast ballots in the city’s historic preliminary mayoral election Tuesday, slightly fewer than the total number of voters in 2013, the last time the city had an open race.
“I’m optimistic that we will have a decent turnout tomorrow,” Secretary of State William F. Galvin said at a news conference outside the State House Monday, running through predictions he said were based on patterns in past elections. “If I were a candidate tomorrow, I’d be thinking about making sure my supporters turn out to vote.”
Nearly 113,000 votes were cast for mayor in the September 2013 preliminary election, an open race Marty Walsh ultimately won. Under 56,000 votes were cast for mayor in the September 2017 race. Walsh ultimately defeated former City Councilor Tito Jackson to win re-election that year.
As the city speeds toward Tuesday, how many voters turn out — and where — will be decisive, particularly for the second-place slot that recent polling shows could go to any of three candidates. Turnout is typically dismal in Boston’s preliminary municipal elections, but candidates this year were hopeful that the historic nature of the race, with all five major candidates people of color, would spur more voters to cast ballots.
Acting Mayor Kim Janey, former city economic development chief John Barros, and City Councilors Michelle Wu, Andrea Campbell and Annissa Essaibi George are competing in Tuesday’s contest. The top two finishers will move on to November’s general election. Polling has shown Wu ahead of her competitors, with Campbell, Janey, and Essaibi George competing for the second slot, and Barros trailing.
Polling suggests high turnout, particularly if the electorate is diverse, could favor Janey. A traditional, low municipal turnout dominated by white and older voters would favor Essaibi George, analysts say.
City authorities said that as of Friday, more than 21,000 people had already voted, including 16,000 mail-in ballots and 5,000 in-person votes at early voting sites.
Galvin also cautioned that voters who still have possession of their mail-in ballots should not mail them.
“If you’re still looking at the ballot, don’t mail it,” he said, as it could take days to arrive and they must arrive by 8 p.m. Tuesday. Instead, voters should deliver their ballots at one of the city’s drop boxes or vote in person.