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Most Mass. primary voters voted early

Accompanied by her dog, Ralph Boy, Mary Kelly filled out her ballot at the early voting location at town hall in Braintree in August.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Of the more than 1 million voters who cast ballots in the Massachusetts state primary last week, fewer than half actually voted on election day.

According to Secretary of State William F. Galvin, 50.2 percent of ballots were cast before Sept. 6, with 45.6 percent cast by mail and 4.6 percent cast in person during the early voting period. The only other time most voters cast ballots before a primary election day was the 2020 state primary, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when 60 percent of ballots were cast outside of polling places.

In terms of total ballots cast, the 2022 primary election also saw the second-highest turnout for a state primary since 1990, surpassed only by the 2020 state primary. The percent of registered voters who cast primary ballots this year was 21.8 percent, matching the 2018 state primary election, elections officials said.


The pre-Sept. 6 voting turnout had a notable partisan split this year, with far more Democratic ballots cast by mail and far more Republican ballots cast in person on primary day.

In the Democratic primary where 777,819 ballots were cast, 52 percent were cast by mail, 4.7 percent during early voting, and 43.2 percent on election day.

In the Republican primary, where 276,158 ballots were cast, only 27.4 percent of ballots were cast by mail, 4.2 percent cast during early voting, and the majority — 68.3 percent — were cast in person on election day.

The 2022 primary marked the first time all Massachusetts voters were able to head to the polls more than a week ahead of the primary to cast ballots in person. Early voting has been an option since the 2016 general election, but this year marked the beginning of mandatory weekend voting hours in all 351 cities and towns.

Even before early voting kicked off on Aug. 27, voters had been sending in mail ballots in droves. Nearly a quarter million voters had already voted by mail before in-person early voting began.


Voters can continue to take advantage of voting early or by mail for the Nov. 8 state election. Early voting will be held Oct. 22 through Nov. 4, and voters can check early voting locations and hours on the secretary of state’s early voting web page at least five days before the start of the early voting period.

To vote by mail, voters can submit an application through the state’s online application system or download the early ballot application, fill it in, and drop it off at their local election officials’ offices.

So far, 16 percent of registered voters already applied to receive a mail ballot in the November election, according to Galvin’s office.

Voters are advised to allow up to seven days for mail delivery. To ensure voters receive their ballot with enough time to mail it back, they are advised to apply two or three weeks before Election Day.

Town Hall in Richmond on March 3, 2020.Stephanie Zollshan/Associated Press

Samantha J. Gross can be reached at samantha.gross@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @samanthajgross.