EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 29, 2013

Low turnout expected in primary

Tomorrow is the party primary for a special U.S. Senate race, but local city and town clerks expect a very low turnout even as the U.S. Senate seats from Massachusetts have been in constant flux since the death of Edward M. Kennedy in 2010.

Three men are vying for the Republican nomination and two for the Democratic nomination to fill the seat vacated in February when John F. Kerry stepped down to become the U.S. Secretary of State.

A recent poll showed Congressman Ed Markey, D-Malden, in the lead for the Democratic nomination, and businessman Gabriel Gomez in the lead for the Republican nomination. But large percentages of likely primary voters reported they are open to changing their minds.

Area clerks said they expect turnout to hover in the teens, based on past elections and the number of absentee ballots requested.

“We’ve had only 96 absentee ballots requested, which leads me to think the turnout will be very low, I’d say 10 to 15 percent. My guess is about 12 percent,” said Methuen City Clerk Christine Touma-Conway.

Polls will be staffed at all precincts in Methuen, Haverhill and Lawrence, and will be open statewide from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In North Andover, Town Clerk Joyce Bradshaw said her office has received between 150 and 200 requests for absentee ballots. “We’re not expecting a huge turnout,” she said. “We see some absentees, but not what you usually get (in a presidential general election.)”

All North Andover voters will vote at North Andover High School.

Andover Town Clerk Lawrence Murphy said his office has received 101 requests for absentee ballots. “Based on what we’ve seen so far for absentee ballots, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be very high,” he said of the turnout.

Precincts 1, 7 and 8 will vote at the Andover senior center, and the rest of town will vote at Andover High School.

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