Low turnout seen in Mass. US Senate electionAP , Associated Press
Jun. 24, 2013 2:42 PM ET
BOSTON (AP) — All signs Monday pointed to a low turnout for a special U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, the state's top elections official said.
U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, a Democrat, and businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez are vying for the seat formerly held by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Richard Heos, who is affiliated with the Twelve Visions Party, is also on the ballot.
Secretary of State William Galvin predicted that no more than 1.6 million of the state's approximately 4.3 million eligible voters — about 37 percent — would cast ballots on Tuesday. By contrast, about 2.25 million people voted in the 2010 special election that followed the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Galvin based his projection on several factors, including a sharp drop in the number of absentee ballots as compared to 2010, and the relatively few inquiries his office has received about the election. He also noted that the vote comes at the start of summer vacation for many people. Tuesday temperatures were expected to be in the 90s for parts of Massachusetts.
"I sincerely hope that my projection ... is wrong, but at this moment I believe that, if anything, it is slightly optimistic," Galvin said.
If his prediction holds, it would mark the lowest voter participation in a U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts in modern times, though Galvin noted that comparisons with past votes were difficult because many occurred in conjunction with presidential elections or other statewide races.
But the intensity of the current campaign has not rivaled that of the closely-watched 2010 special election, won by Republican Scott Brown. Other dynamics were in play at that time including a weak economy and the potential importance of Brown's vote in allowing Republicans to block President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
"I'm not going to deliver a political analysis, but it's obvious that some of the factors that were present in 2010 ... the national interest, the effects on the workings of the United States Senate, are simply not present this time," said Galvin, a Democrat.
Tuesday's election is expected to cost the state about $13.5 million, including more than $8 million in promised reimbursements to cities and towns for election-related expenses.
The Legislature has yet to appropriate the funds, but Galvin said he had spoken to legislative leaders and received assurances the money would be forthcoming.