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Preliminary Election Day has arrived in Boston. Here’s what you need to know

Debbie Alexander was posted at the ballot drop box at the BCY on Paris Street in East Boston, where early voting was taking place for Boston's preliminary municipal election.
Debbie Alexander was posted at the ballot drop box at the BCY on Paris Street in East Boston, where early voting was taking place for Boston's preliminary municipal election.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

After a spirited race where everything from campaigning during a pandemic to the historically diverse field of candidates was unorthodox, Boston preliminary election day is finally here.

Five major candidates are running for mayor, including Acting Mayor Kim Janey; City Councilors Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, and Michelle Wu; and the city’s former economic development chief, John Barros.

This isn’t the finish line quite yet. The top two candidates will move on to the Nov. 2 general election which will decide who will lead Boston next, starting in November.

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Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and voters can find their polling station on the state secretary’s website. Mail-in ballots can no longer be mailed, but can be put in drop boxes until 8 p.m.

No matter the result, this election is on course to make history. Boston has only ever elected white men as its leaders; in this race, each of the major candidates breaks that mold. What remains to be seen is if one of the three Black candidates will make it to the final November election, or if Boston will skip another chance to elect a Black mayor for the first time.

Only two times has a Black candidate made it to the general election: Mel King in 1983 and former Roxbury councilor Tito Jackson in 2017. In this year’s race, with polls showing Wu as the frontrunner, two Black women, Campbell and Janey, are vying for the second spot on November’s ballot alongside Essaibi George. A Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll last week showed all three virtually neck-and-neck.

The poll of 500 likely voters also showed that the issues Bostonians care most about in this election are education (20 percent), housing (19 percent), racism and equity (17 percent), and the economy and jobs (14 percent).

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Aside from the mayor’s race, voters will also have a chance to select their picks for four at-large councilors, out of a packed roster of 17 candidates. The top eight will compete on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Some Bostonians will also vote to elect their district councilor on Tuesday’s ballot. Voters in Districts 4, 6, 7, and 9, will cast ballots in this preliminary election to narrow the field to two candidates for Nov. 2.

There will be no preliminary election voting for the council seats for Districts 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8, as there are already only one or two candidates running.



Sahar Fatima can be reached at sahar.fatima@globe.com Follow her on Twitter @sahar_fatima.