Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was one of hundreds of Boston-area residents who voted early on Monday.
This year marks the first time that Massachusetts has offered early voting and it kicked off with strong participation. Within the first 25 minutes of opening City Hall as a polling place Monday morning, 62 people voted, according to Dion Irish, the commissioner of Boston's Elections Department.
From there, the numbers just kept rising with a reported 700 votes cast in Boston by 1 p.m. Irish called the early voting initiative, which runs until Nov. 4, a “tremendous success.” Lesley Waxman, assistant director of the Cambridge Election Commission, said that polls in Cambridge were busy all day. At 4 p.m., he reported that they had about 1,200 voters.
As of September, 34 states and the District of Columbia offered no-excuse early voting, according to Ballotpedia. Early voting is meant to offer flexibility for those who may not be able to get to their polling place on Election Day due to family or workplace needs.
“We continue to make things as easy as possible for people to get out so there’s no excuse,” Walsh said during a news conference after he voted. “This year we have about 20,000 more registered voters than the last presidential election in 2012, and certainly every single vote matters.”
Though hundreds showed up to the polls on Monday, most studies on “early in-person voting reported no evidence of an effect on turnout or found decreases in turnout,” according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The city earmarked $670,000 in last year’s budget to finance the early vote, Walsh said.
The mayor has also worked to reach out to millenials, some of whom will be voting for the first time in this city, through a series of “pop-ups at the polls,” coordinated with SPARK Boston.
“We’re holding early voting events all across city starting this Saturday that we hope spark a meaningful conversation about why it’s important to be engaged,” said Jerome Smith, the city's chief of civic engagement.
Voters are encouraged to participate in a pop-up at the polls on Oct. 29 and use the hashtag #SPARKBosVotes for a chance to meet the mayor. A full schedule of activities can be found here.