One of the most contentious presidential elections of recent history takes place Tuesday in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most observers agree Election Night 2020 results may not be clear Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
Massachusetts voters will pick a president and U.S. senator while deciding two statewide ballot questions and a host of congressional and state races. Voters in Gloucester also will consider a question for a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion to fund a new school to serve the combined student bodies of East Gloucester and Veterans Memorial elementary schools.
Secretary of State Bill Galvin is predicting a record turnout among the state’s 4.6 million voters, driven by interest in the contentious race between incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden as well as changes to laws making it easier to cast a ballot.
Nearly half of Cape Ann’s and the state’s voters have already cast ballots in early voting or by mail, heading into Tuesday’s election.
As of Friday, more than 2.2 million ballots were cast, according to Galvin’s office.
Nearly 60% of those ballots were mailed. The others — nearly 1 million — were cast during the two-week, in-person early voting period that got underway Oct. 17 and wrapped up Friday.
Massachusetts is one of a number of states that substantially increased mail-in voting options to avoid overcrowding at the polls amid concerns about the coronavirus. Before the outbreak, the state only allowed voters to mail “absentee” ballots if they could not vote in person on Election Day, but voters needed an excuse, such as a disability.
Rockport and some North Shore communities are reporting that more than 60% of voters have already cast ballots by mail or in person. Still, election officials have cautioned that the outcome of some legislative and local races might not be known for days.
That’s because in Massachusetts local election clerks can accept postmarked ballots up to three days after Nov. 3. Clerks have already begun processing mail ballots but cannot begin tallying votes until the polls close on Nov. 3.
More than 83 million Americans have voted in the Nov. 3 election so far, surpassing all early ballots cast in the 2016 polls, according to published reports.
In Gloucester, preliminary results for the 2020 national presidential election are expected to roll in between 9:30 and 10 p.m. Tuesday.
“On Election Day, Nov. 3, all polling locations will have PPE (personal protective equipment) in place, signage, and the voting booths will be cleaned during the voting hours,” City Clerk Joanne Senos said.
Inactive voters —a registered voter who has not responded to the annual street list or subsequent confirmation notice — will be required to sign an affirmation of current and continuous residence and must show a photo ID or mail with their name and address before they can receive a ballot.
Senos stressed that, within 150 feet of the polling place, no person is allowed to wear political apparel, such as T-shirt, buttons, or hats; hold political signs; solicit votes for or against a candidate or question; or gather signatures or any petitions.
A specimen ballot can be viewed at http://gloucester-ma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/7078/Specimen-Ballot?bidId=.
On Election Day, Nov. 3, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the these locations:
Ward 1, Precinct 1: East Gloucester School, 8 Davis St. Extension
Ward 1, Precinct 2: Veterans Memorial School 11 Webster St.
Ward 2, Precincts 1 and 2: Our Lady of Good Voyage Church Youth Center 140 Prospect St.
Ward 3, Precincts 1 and 2: Gloucester High School cafeteria, 36 Leslie O. Johnson Road.* (* polling location change)
Ward 4, Precinct 1: Beeman Memorial School, 138 Cherry St.
Ward 4, Precinct 2: Plum Cove School*, 15 Hickory St. (* polling location change)
Ward 5, Precinct 1: Magnolia Library Center, 1 Lexington Ave.
Ward 5, Precinct 2: West Parish Elementary School, 10 Concord St.
Voters may drop ballots in the drop box located on the Warren Street side entrance of City Hall and also in the handicapped entrance on Dale Avenue before 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Those unsure of their ward and, or precinct may contact the City Clerk’s Office at 978-281-9720 #7 or email email@example.com.
In Rockport, voting on Election Day, Nov. 3, takes place from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the following locations:
Precinct 1: Town Hall Annex, 26 Broadway.
Precinct 2: St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 24 Broadway.
Precinct 3: Rockport Community House, 58 Broadway.
Ballots may be mailed or placed in the secure drop box located at the back door of Town Hall; it is accessible 24 hours a day.
A sample ballot and further voting information may be found on the town clerk’s webpage at www.rockportma.gov. Questions may be directed to the town clerk’s office at 978-546-6894.
In Manchester, polls will be open at Manchester Essex Regional High School, 36 Lincoln St., from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Proper COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place.
In Essex, polls will be open at Memorial Fire Station, 24 Martin St., from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Ballots may put in the secure drop box located under the portico in the front of Town Hall on Tuesday before 8p.m.
Material from Statehouse reporter Christian M. Wade was used in this report.
Early voter turnout
Here’s how early voting went by community as of Saturday at 4 p.m.
Town Registered Voters #Applied or Voted %Applied or Voted Ballots Provided %Mailed Ballots Returned %Returned Voter Turnout
Gloucester 22,420 12,061 53.80% 12,039 99.82% 10,830 89.96% 48.31%
Rockport 6,147 3,972 64.62% 3,971 99.97% 3,690 92.92% 60.03%
Essex 2,900 1,670 57.59% 1,668 99.88% 1,524 91.37% 52.55%
Manchester 4,514 2,963 65.64% 2,945 99.7% 2,639 89.34% 58.46%
State totals 4,813,700 2,257,252 52.71% 2,533,703 99.85% 2,273,434 88.31% 46.48%
Source: Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s office