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Early Voters in Cambridge Head to Polls for Presidential Primaries

A voter registration signpost stands in Quincy House's courtyard on a sunny Tuesday afternoon.
A voter registration signpost stands in Quincy House's courtyard on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. By Sara Komatsu
By Jasper G. Goodman, Crimson Staff Writer

Less than a week before Super Tuesday, Massachusetts residents are already casting their ballots in the 2020 presidential primaries.

For the first time ever during a presidential primary, Massachusetts is holding a five-day early voting period where residents can cast ballots at any open polling locations in their municipalities.

“Early voting opens up a lot more convenience in voting for people who don’t qualify for absentee ballots,” Debra O’Malley, a spokesperson for Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin, said.

Unlike on Election Day, early voters are not assigned to specific polling places. In Cambridge, residents can cast their ballots at any of six polling locations open for early voting.

On Monday, the first day of early voting, 1,716 voters cast ballots, according to Cambridge Election Commission assistant director Lesley Waxman.

The Massachusetts state legislature passed a bill in 2014 that approved early voting for general elections. The legislature passed a provision approving early voting for the 2020 presidential primaries at Galvin’s request.

More than 20 percent of voters cast ballots early in 2018. In Cambridge, more than a quarter of voters went to the polls early for the midterm elections.

“It’s never been shown that early voting necessarily increases turnout, but it does make it much easier for the people who want to vote to vote,” O’Malley said.

Rebecca Simonson, a first-time early voter who said she cast her ballot for United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), said she “appreciated the convenience” of the process.

“It was a lot easier than the normal process of going to my precinct location and voting,” Simonson said.

Simonson, who voted at Cambridge’s Main Library, said she supports Warren because she is “wise and principled.” She added that she decided to ignore the issue of electability — which Democratic voters tell pollsters is the most important issue to them nationally — and vote based on her perception of who will make the best chief executive.

“It’s a circular issue where everyone talks about electability and it means that they don’t consider the best candidate, necessarily,” Simonson said. “I’ve decided to pick my candidate and go for it and tell everyone that they’re great in the hopes that other people will also follow that line of thinking and vote for the best person for the position, rather than worrying about all the noise.”

Democratic presidential candidates are ramping up their campaigns in Massachusetts ahead of next Tuesday’s primary, when Bay State voters will go to the polls along with 13 other states. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is scheduled to hold two events in Massachusetts over the weekend, including one on Boston Common at noon on Saturday.

Cambridge resident Ryan DeGroot said he voted for Sanders and added that he is wary of billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s titanic campaign spending.

DeGroot also said that he appreciated the speed of the voting process at the Main Library Tuesday.

“You just walk in, take the ballot, go fill it in, and then fist bump the person at the ballot box and then walk out,” he said. “So it’s pretty nice.”

—Staff writer Jasper G. Goodman can be reached at jasper.goodman@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jasper_Goodman.

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