Record turnout for midterms in Bay State
Bay State residents came out in droves for last Tuesday’s election, setting a record for ballots cast in a midterm election.
Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin’s office announced yesterday that unofficial results show 2.7 million residents participated in the election, far more than the 2.4 million Galvin had predicted.
“The number of ballots cast will continue to rise as local election officials count provisional ballots cast on Election Day, as well as military and overseas ballots mailed from outside of the United States,” Galvin said in a statement. In 2010, 2.3 million Massachusetts residents showed up at the polls, while 2014 saw 2.2 million voters.
Rachael Cobb, an associate professor and chairwoman of Suffolk University’s government department, said the turnout can be boiled down to one person: President Trump.
“The midterms are a referendum of the president's performance,” Cobb said. “The turnout appears to be driven largely by interest in national ramifications of the 2016 election. The nationalization of politics right now in national events, the presidency, and mobilized rallies and protests, have propelled people to vote in this election.”
Researchers from Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement found that 31 percent of U.S. youth ages 18-29 turned out to vote in the midterms — “by far the highest level of participation among youth in the last seven midterm elections.”
One of the reason younger people went to the polls is because of a “surge in political activism that tripled since 2016,” said Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, the research center’s director. “The Parkland shooting movement explicitly asked young people to vote.”
Kawashima-Ginsberg said for-profit companies, including the transportation sector, have “coalesced together industry-wide.” In Massachusetts, companies such as Uber, Lyft, Lime and Bluebikes services offered reduce fares or free rides to get the vote out.
“For those who felt 2014 midterms didn’t matter, they now got the message,” Cobb said. “There’s been a sea change in interest and people that were once complacent are now voting.”
STEP RIGHT UP: Voters check in at the polling place at Holy Name Parish School gym in West Roxbury on Tuesday.