Published in the Bay State Banner, October 26, 2016
Photo by Karen Morales
On Boston’s first day of early voting ever, 4,289 ballots were cast across four different voting locations in the city, according to numbers released by the Boston Elections Department.
Massachusetts passed a 2014 law that requires cities and towns to hold an early voting every two years before the November general election. Thirty other states have also passed laws allowing residents to vote before Election Day.
From October 24 to November 4, voters can cast their ballots at locations across the city with the option to send their ballot through the mail. Twenty-eight locations will be used throughout the voting period with various hours of operation.
“We just want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to vote, there’s no excuse you can’t vote,” said Mayor Marty Walsh at a press conference held on Monday at City Hall. The municipal building kicked off early voting at 9 a.m., and after 1 p.m., more than 700 ballots had been cast, including the Mayor’s.
“I think folks are very interested in particular in this election,” said Dion Irish, Commissioner of the Boston Elections Department. “Having more options for people to cast their vote to be counted on November 8th is better for democracy.”
After the last ballots had been cast on Monday at 8 p.m., 1,818 votes were counted at City Hall, including 16 provisional ballots. At Orient Heights Yacht Club, The Metropolitan condominiums in Chinatown, and the Harriet Tubman House in the South End where polls opened at 2 p.m., a total of 417, 729, and 1,325 votes were cast, respectively. The Metropolitan’s vote tally included 18 provisional votes while Harriet Tubman House had 16 provisional votes in their totals. Provisional ballots are those in which voters’ registrations have yet to be verified.
On Saturday October 29, residents will have the opportunity to vote at 9 different polling locations, one in each city council district, from noon to 6 p.m.
According to Irish, every early voting site is accessible for persons with disabilities.
“They are all equipped with AutoMark machines to assist voters, and chairs are available to assist folks who can’t wait in line longer than expected,” he said. Automark machines assist voters with sensory and physical limitations in marking their ballots, as well as provides language translation.
“I happened to be out today, and though I might as well come down here and vote,” said Herb Webb, a resident of Back Bay. “I’m excited to be here for early voting, this is a brand new.”
According to Mayor Walsh, $670,000 for early voting was allocated in last year’s city budget.
City Hall will remain open for voting Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. through 8 p.m. until November 4.