In-person polls drew thousands of Boston voters Tuesday

By Charlie McKenna

Thousands of Massachusetts voters flocked to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots for president in an election tempered by the coronavirus pandemic and its enduring effects. 

In Boston, the scene at City Hall throughout the day was generally quiet, with wind whipping as the sun shone down on voters in line. Some meandered in and out of the Chinatown YMCA to cast their ballots. Few voters were on site at the polling station at Benjamin Franklin University in the Shawmut neighborhood shortly before the sun set around 5 p.m. 

Polls in the city opened at 7 a.m. across the state and closed at 8 p.m. 

Student Ally Roloff, who goes to school in Connecticut, said her first time voting was easier than she anticipated.

“It was great,” she said after voting at Boston City Hall. “It went much quicker than I thought it would.” 

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Voters across the city donned masks and social distanced while queued around and inside Boston’s polling stations. Roloff said the coronavirus safety measures in place impressed her.

“They gave me hand sanitizer, and everyone was wearing masks,” she said.

Bostonian Cynthia Simpson said she was excited for the end of the election and hopeful for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m actually glad it’s over, and I’m glad to have voted,” said Simpson, who voted in Shawmut. “The best outcome I believe would be foremost to find a cure for this pandemic—a vaccine—and then we can start to move back to some type of normalcy.”

The 2020 election brought a surge in the number of mail-in ballots that experts predict could take weeks to be counted. Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said Monday that 2.3 million ballots had been received in the state thus far. Galvin estimates that voter turnout will exceed the state’s previous record of 3.3 million, rising to 3.6 million. 

Historically, Massachusetts has swung blue, but several key battleground states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan truly determine the election. 

Elizabeth Fishin, who went to city hall to volunteer for World Central Kitchen, a non-profit organization that provides meals in the wake of natural disasters, said she went to show support for voters after voting by mail. 

“Just to thank people for coming out and voting, since it is a tough time during the pandemic,” she said. “We really wanted to give back to the community.”

Voters in Quincy Tuesday morning expressed worry about the outcome of the election.

“I feel like this world is coming to an end,” Nicole Tice, a Quincy resident, said. “Well not necessarily, but I just feel like the candidates suck. Sorry.”

Quincy Resident Carol Gormley echoed Tice’s anxiety. 

“I have a lot of angst around what’s going to happen,” Gormley said. “Regardless of the outcome, someone is going to be unhappy and someone is going to be happy. And I hope we don’t have violence.”

Mayor Martin J. Walsh cast his ballot at the Lower Mills Branch of the Boston Public Library in Dorchester this morning, waiting in line with fellow voters through a brief hail storm.  

Bostonian Susan Ye said she was anxious about going to work the day after the election. 

“We never know what’s going to happen tonight or tomorrow,” Ye said. “I’m scared to go to work [tomorrow] because I have no clue what’s going to happen going to work.

Joshua Sokol, Karli Wallace, and Alec Klusza contributed reporting.