After the first two days it was 890. On Friday it was over 2,000. And by the end of Tuesday night – day seven – 3,490 Watertown residents had cast their vote during the early voting period.
This is the first election where early voting has been an option for Massachusetts voters and Watertown residents have flocked to Town Hall to take advantage.
“This is the first time for the Commonwealth, so we didn’t have anything to judge it by,” said Watertown Town Clerk John Flynn. “The line moves steadily. There is a line all day. The minute we open the doors people waiting.”
Flynn said the busiest times are when the office opens, and again at closing in the evening. The biggest crowd came on Tuesday night, when the Clerk’s office stayed open until 7 p.m., two hours later than normal.
There has been a constant buzz of early voting activity all week at Clerk’s office, located on the ground floor of Town Hall, 149 Main St. As of 4 p.m. on Wednesday, there was a consistent line of 5-10 people, but people only had to wait 10 minutes at most before they could take their ballot across the hall and fill it out. Then it goes into an envelope and is handed back to the staff of the Clerk’s office.
It has been so busy that the Clerk’s office called in some poll workers to help out during the early voting period.
In 2012, 16,716 votes were cast in the Presidential race. One-fifth of that number of voters have already cast their vote in 2016.
The Watertown Police will escort the ballots to the polling places, along with the voting machines, on Tuesday, and then they will be put into the machines by poll workers. This is the same procedure as is followed for ballots cast by servicemen and women, residents living overseas, and for absentee ballots.
It appears that early voting will not be an option every election. Flynn said state officials approved it only for Massachusetts’ general elections. The next one will be in November 2018 when people vote for governor.
Those looking to vote early can still do so through Friday, Nov. 4. The Clerk’s office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
If you miss the early voting period, the polls will be open on Tuesday, Nov. 8 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. To find out where your polling place is, click here: http://www.wheredoivotema.com/bal/myelectioninfo.aspx