Record turnout for midterms in Bay State

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By JONATHAN NG — jng@boston­her­ald.com

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.”

AN­GELA ROWL­INGS / BOS­TON HER­ALD

STEP RIGHT UP: Vot­ers check in at the polling place at Holy Name Parish School gym in West Roxbury on Tues­day.

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