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Scenes from the polls on Mass. primary day

Globe reporters captured scenes around the region on primary day. The race for governor and attorney general was on the minds of many voters.

At the Curley Community Center in South Boston, lunchtime voters were far outnumbered by the runners and bikers enjoying the late summer day along the water. There were plenty of campaign signs, many for down-ticket races, and an enthusiastic group of supporters at the entrance. But few entered.

“I think it’s just a lack of interest,” said Mary Ahern, who was bringing her 90-year-old mother to vote. “People are just too busy, especially since it’s just a primary.”


Some voters, banking on no lines, simply put their blinkers on and parked along the curb. They were back in no time.

For Paul Healey, 38, voting was less a duty than an opportunity, a chance to be heard.

“You gotta vote,” he said. “I like to put my two cents in. It’s not often you get a chance.”

One young voter, named Ritchie, said South Boston had a proud tradition of political involvement. But many of the newcomers to the neighborhood don’t seem to care as much, he said.

“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “We grew up in a political culture, and I never miss an election. State, local, federal.”

But voters said this election was particularly drab, and that it was hard to think about politics when September had barely begun.



QUINCY -- At the Quincy Historical Society Museum and Library, turnout was “slow and steady,” said Linda Billikas, a clerk at Ward 5’s Third Precinct polling place.

By about 1 p.m., about 185 people had voted, which she said was a typical pace for a primary election.

Pat Barry of Quincy, an independent voter who said she considered herself a Democrat, said she had a hard time making up her mind in the statewide races.


“I want to boot half the people out, but I don’t know who to put in,” she said, adding that she thought Martha Coakley had done a pretty good job for the state.

“But I won’t not vote,” said Barry, who is retired. “Too many women fought long and hard for the right.”

At the polling place around 1 in the afternoon, a woman named Maria who only wanted her first name used was excited to cast her vote for GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker. Maria, a self-described fiscal conservative and social libertarian, said she thought Baker had the best chance to curb spending and boost employment.

“I work in the ER,” said Maria, a nurse practitioner, “and it’s not healthy when people don’t work.”

But her vote had to wait: she was at the wrong polling place. The Quincy resident headed off in search of her ballot.



Sarah Lucas of Hyde Park, who described herself as an independent, seemed unsure about whether she picked the right person for governor. She was voting at the Elihu Greenwood Leadership Academy.

“As a woman, I would like Martha Coakley to be governor because we want more women in politics, but she was so disappointing in the last campaign [for US senator] that I wonder... if she is respecting the opportunity,’’ said Lucas after voting. “That’s my worry. Hopefully, she has learned from that experience.”


Lucas would not say how she voted.

Mary Clinkscales, a 72-year-old Hyde Park resident, also would not say who her choices were in the Democratic primary. But she did not seem enthused by her choices.

“I’m still on the fence,’’ she said, even after voting. “I really don’t know a lot of people on [the ballot]. There were about four or five names that I recognized.”

But the choice for governor in the Democratic primary was easy for Emanus Desvallons, a 59-year-old nursing assistant. He checked the box for Coakley.

“I felt good because I can’t wait for Martha Coakley to be our governor,’’ he said, a broad smile forming on his face. “I just love her.”



In the South End, some of the first voters ran into some problems.

At the station on Tremont Street, they were confronted by a machine that would not work. When the first voter in the precinct inserted his ballot, the satisfying whoosh that usually indicates the ballot has been accepted was nowhere to be heard.

Push harder, poll workers urged. No luck.

Maybe it’s the memory card, one poll worker suggested. Turn it on and off, a Boston police officer offered.


Calls were placed to the city’s election headquarters. Some voters were turned away. One left, unable to wait, completed ballot in hand. Another wanted to make the 8 a.m. flight to New York, but adjusted that to 9 a.m.

After 20 minutes, voters were told to stack their ballots in an opening in the back of the machine.


With the line stretching a dozen voters long, there was, at least, the illusion of voter interest in the primary election.



LEXINGTON — In the town where the first shots were fired in the American Revolution, people trickled into a former school building, one or two voters every few minutes.

Carol Berker, 38, a stay-at-home mother, said she had voted for Donald Berwick for governor, but only as a symbolic gesture.

“I liked his health care plan and it was sort of a protest vote. I figured Martha Coakley was going to win, and I was fine with that,” she said.

She said she had voted for Warren Tolman for attorney general because she liked his gun regulation proposals.

Paula Mathieu, an English professor, said she voted for Berwick.

“I think he cares about the issues most important to me,’’ said Mathieu, 47. “He seems like someone who can get things done. He was executive of a large nonprofit so he’s got that kind of experience.”

Life scientist Derek Jackson said he cast his vote for Steve Grossman for governor, a choice he made in part because Grossman was endorsed by the Globe’s editorial page.

“I think in terms of his message about job creation and business licensing he has the right plan,’’ Jackson said.

Jackson said he was “really torn” about the race for attorney general between Warren Tolman and Maura Healey, but he was impressed Healey.


Richard Samuels, 62, voted for Berwick “because he’s not a machine politician,” and went for Tolman because “He tries hard. He’s been around a long time.”



MANCHESTER-BY-THE SEA — At Memorial School, turnout was steady, with the focus on the hard-fought congressional primary between Democrats John Tierney and Seth Moulton. Eric Wilson, a software engineer, said he voted for Tierney, the incumbent.

“I like the positions he takes, particularly on the environment and school loans,” Wilson, 56, said this morning. “And I don’t like Moulton’s ads, focusing on how Tierney has only passed one bill he’s sponsored. It shows he has no understanding of how Congress works, if he really thinks the goal is to get his name on as many bills as possible.”

Ben Conway, a 50-year-old investment banker, voted for Moulton.

“I want to see change, and I don’t like the way either party is bifurcated,” he said. “And I don’t like the negative ads Tierney has run against Moulton. It’s time for new blood.”



SOMERVILLE — In Davis Square, voters breezed through the polls at Ciampa Manor on College Avenue. By 10 a.m., there was no line to vote and nobody holding signs outside. Even the parking spaces were empty.

Poll warden Elaine Cobucci said 126 voters had turned out early in the morning, typical of a primary.

“It’s been steady,” she said.

But in this progressive neighborhood, at a time when the state could elect a woman governor for the first time, the turnout was far lower than each of the past two presidential elections, where the line to vote stretched several blocks and lasted as long as two hours.

John Langton, 40, the owner of a software startup in Kendall Square, lamented the lack of interest in local races.

“This is where you can really effect change,” said Langton, who is not affiliated with any political party.

He said he was most inspired to vote by the race for attorney general, saying that the state’s top prosecutor is a critical position that demanded a fair-minded candidate. He said he supported Maura Healey because he was impressed with her work helping overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. Nearby, a Healey sign lay flat on a church lawn.

Jeanette Wiltshire, 81, of Somerville, said she voted mostly for women: for governor, attorney general, and district attorney.

She said she had voted Republican all her life, until President Obama ran for office, when she switched to help elect the first black president. Now, she said, she’d like to see more women in office.

“I thought it’s time the women had a say,” said Wiltshire, a retired medical technician, standing outside the polling place.

Beside her, Carmelo Vazzino, 66, a retired carpenter, nodded his head.

“I believe in that, too,” he said.



WELLESLEY -- Lynn Uhl said she was an early supporter of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Don Berwick, but ultimately cast her vote for Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Berwick, she said, “was too far behind” in the polls. As for Coakley, Uhl said, “she has the government experience.”

Shula Levy said she voted for Berwick, not because she thinks he will prevail, but because she wanted to back his message. Berwick is a pediatrician who ran the nation’s Medicare and Medicaid programs under President Obama.

“I really think we need a public health program,” Levy said. “I’m not voting to win. I’m voting for what I believe in.”

Levy described Berwick’s opponents, Coakley and state Treasurer Steve Grossman as “career politicians.”

“We need people who are not veterans in politics to inject new blood in our politics,” she said.



At the John F. Kennedy School in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, 85-year-old Catherine Gallagher was among those making sure they participated in the election. Gallagher, of Roxbury, said she never misses an election.

“I used to work at the polls,” she said. “I know how important it is to vote.”

Barbara Dessesaure, 68, also of Roxbury, said she felt it was crucial to exercise her civil right, no matter what.

“My vote counts, and that’s why I am here,” she said. “No one should forget what it took for us to have the right to vote. Everyone should be here.”

Neither would say whom they voted for.