Galvin: Primary Turnout May Be Higher Than First Expected

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BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Though turnout for Massachusetts primary elections has been expected to be low, Secretary of State Bill Galvin told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Parker this morning that it may end up higher than first thought.

"Initially, we were thinking it might not get to 500,000 Democratic ballots," he said. "We think it might now. On the Republican side, it was 165,000 four years ago, but the US Senate fight this time on the Republican side might enhance that turnout also."

He also said a large number of voters requested absentee ballots in advance of the vote--54,000 in total. About 41,000 of those were requested by Democrats. Galvin said over 31,000 voters have already submitted absentee ballots. 

"We actually exceeded significantly the number of absentee ballots cast over the four-year-ago comparable year," he said. "We think there's going to be a fairly good turnout. Obviously it's going to be more intense in places like the Merrimack Valley, where the open congressional seat is, in the seventh congressional district, and also in the first congressional district, where there's been an intense contest."

One wild card in all this--independents make up more than half of eligible voters, who may choose not to align with either party, though they may take a ballot on either side.

Galvin faces his own primary challenge today from Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim, who says low turnout this year may be in part because of the decision to hold the primary on this particular day.

"There's a reason we've never had a statewide primary the day after Labor Day in Massachusetts," Zakim said. "It's the first day of school in a lot of communities, many folks have been away for the weekend. It's not a day people think about for voting, unfortunately. My opponent, Secretary Galvin, did select this date, and I certainly don't think it was intended to increase turnout."

24/7 NewsSource contributed to this report.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Parker (@radiobenparker) reports

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