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Harvard Polls Draw Surprisingly High Turnout for Primary

By Lauren E. Claus and Colton A. Valentine, Contributing Writers

Despite low voter turnout across the state, participation at the polls in Quincy House was higher than expected Tuesday, as undergraduates and other members of the community cast their ballots in the first step towards filling the congressional seat vacated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Despite the low profile of the primaries for the Senate special election, nearly 40 people had come to cast their vote by mid-afternoon—an unusually high turnout, according to poll worker Dawn M. Adolphe.

Nancy R. Aiguier, who has staffed the polls at Quincy House in the past, indicated surprise over the number of voters.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be like this,” Aiguier said. “I thought it was going to be very quiet, and I didn’t see it as a big election.”

The strong turnout at Quincy was lack of publicity surrounding the election. While the Warren-Brown race this past fall drew over 3 million voters to the polls, approximately 550,000 and 200,000 voted in the Democratic and Republican primaries, respectively.

Still, many students told The Crimson they were enthusiastic about participating in the electoral process.

Elena F. Hoffenberg ’16, who said she “definitely” would be voting, cited the lack of attention surrounding the election as her primary reason to participate.

“Sometimes a vote cast in a smaller election can be more decisive than one cast in a presidential election or in an off-year,” Hoffenberg said. “It gives me a special opportunity for me to really have a voice in politics.”

Other students who voted had cited more obvious reasons for their excitement. “I enjoy being a part of the democratic process,” Chad J. Benoit ’16 said.

Not all students approached by The Crimson were as enthusiastic, however—in fact, many were unaware of Tuesday’s primary elections, or were unsure of where they could vote.

Even upon learning of the polling location, Lauren B. Feldman ’13 said she was still uncertain about voting.

“I’d feel better about myself if I did,” she said.

Although recent media coverage of the Boston bombings has diverted attention from the ongoing Senate race, the Quincy poll workers suggested that the tragedy could actually have inspired increased voter participation on campus.

“Maybe that’s causing them to say no matter what’s going on, I’m gonna come out and vote,” said Alguier, who added that political participation in the wake of the crisis could be an empowering action.

Adolphe echoed the idea that the bombings could be a rallying call.

“[People] want to feel like they have more control over what’s going on,” she said. “Voting is a part of that.”

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