BOSTON — With the mercury rising, Secretary of State William Galvin Monday predicted a potentially record low turnout in today’s special election for U.S. Senate, estimating that 1.6 million voters will cast ballots out of 4.3 million registered voters.
Describing himself as “very concerned” by the apparent lack of interest in the race between 37-year congressman Edward Markey and Cohasset businessman Gabriel Gomez, Galvin said his estimated turnout totals would fall well short of the baseline of 2.2 million votes cast, a number he derived based on patterns in recent U.S. Senate contests.
“I’m very concerned, as I said last week, about the potential for the turnout being relatively low,” Galvin said, adding, “I’d like nothing more than to be wrong.”
As both candidates barnstormed the state Monday trying to energize their bases and remind voters about today’s election, a new Suffolk University poll showed Markey holding a 10-point advantage over Gomez and leading the Republican by double digits in bellwether communities such as Lowell, Dartmouth and South Hadley.
Galvin suggested that political factors as well as the Boston Bruins playoff run, the trial of Whitey Bulger, the timing of the election in the early summer and the heat have all contributed to diminished interest in the race and could drive down turnout.
“We don’t usually have elections in heat waves, but we may do that tomorrow,” Galvin said.
Through Monday morning, 63,000 voters had cast absentee ballots compared to 105,000 at the same point in the January 2010 special election between Scott Brown and Martha Coakley for U.S. Senate. Galvin said hits on his website and calls to his office have also been down. Absentee balloting ended at noon on Monday.
There are signs that Cape Ann communities may prove an exception. In Manchester, town voters are also facing two referendum questions asking them to allow a one-time debt exclusion Proposition 2 1/2 override, primarily to fund repairs to the town’s seawall and Manchester Harbor.