A Fifth of Massachusetts Voted Early

More than a million registered voters have already cast their ballots.

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Photo via iStock

We won’t know for another day how things turned out in 2016, an election year in Massachusetts that has seen a record amount of fundraising, vicious battles on ballot questions, and some unforgettable ads.

But for more than a million in the state, the race is already over.

For the first time ever, Massachusetts voters were able to cast ballots before election day, and a considerable amount did just that. So far, something like 22 percent of voters turned out at polling places around the state. That’s according to Secretary of State William Galvin, who spoke to media on the eve of the national election. He says the turnout exceeded expectations, surpassing the 15 percent he says others estimated would line up and cast their ballots early.

Voters, he says, “expressed relief that they didn’t have to make any more decisions,” according to the State House News Service.

They also haven’t let the dark, bizarre, depressing tenor of this cycle get them down.

“It’s been an unusual campaign,” says Galvin. “If you wanted to contrast it even with 2012, the tone is certainly far more negative than in 2012. It’s certainly more negative than 2008 when there was a sense of optimism in the country. Even the supporters of Senator McCain in 2008, I think, had an optimistic view. That’s not been the case.” He says they were able to “overcome the difficulties of this campaign to participate.”

Enthusiasm for early voting varied community-by-community. Some municipalities saw as many as 40 percent of registered voters take part during the 10-day period, according to Galvin. In Boston, about 48,000 people voted early, or about 11.5 of the city’s registered voters.

Galvin anticipates overall turnout will be similar to that of the past two elections, and be north of 3 million votes total. About 4.5 million people are registered to vote in Massachusetts.

Early voting is not likely to increase turnout statewide, as the practice when implemented in other states hasn’t changed the total number of people who vote. More on that from the Globe‘s Evan Horowitz can be found here.

Among people who will be voting on Tuesday: three people who had previously not been able to vote because they missed the voter registration deadline of October 19. A judge today ruled in favor of three people who took the matter to court with help from the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The organization now wants to move the deadline forward permanently, pursuing a ruling that cutting off voter registration nearly three weeks from the election is unconstitutional.