Fewer voters, more unenrolled for Tuesday’s balloting

New statistics reported by the Secretary of State’s office ahead of Tuesday’s presidential primary suggest that our state is becoming less partisan and more independent.

Unfortunately, it’s also home to fewer registered voters.

According to Secretary Bill Galvin’s office, there are 80,000 fewer residents signed up for next Tuesday’s March 6 primary than there were in October 2010, a month before the last statewide election. That’s a 1.9 percent decline.

Galvin’s office also reports that the number of registered Democrats dropped by 53,095, or 3.5 percent. Republicans slid as well: there are 8,367 fewer registered Republicans on Feb. 15, down 1.8 percent from October 2010. The statewide electorate is now made up of 36 percent Democrats and 11.3 percent Republicans. Almost everyone else— 52 percent— is unenrolled (independent). In Boston, however, the numbers are more sharply tipped towards the Democrats: more than 54 percent of Suffolk County voters are registered Democrats, as opposed to just under 7 percent for Republicans.

As the State House News Service points out, “The new registration figures feature detailed on town-by-town breakdowns that will likely be of interest to incumbents and challengers competing in this year’s state House and Senate and Congressional races, which will unfold in districts redrawn to reflect population shifts recorded in the 2010 Census.” These individual figures can be reviwed online ion detail at mass.gov.

Secretary Galvin thinks that there’ll be an uptick in new voters ahead of November’s election, in which President Obama will face a challenge from a Republican nominee.

Seven candidates will appear on Tuesday’s Republican presidential ballot in Massachusetts. They are, in order: Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Rock Santorum, John Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, and Newt Gingrich. Registered Democrats cannot pull a Republican ballot in Massachusetts (some states, like Michigan, allow for such “open primaries”). However, voters who are unenrolled can choose to pull one of the three party ballots that will be available: Democrat, Republican, or Green-Rainbow. The last-named party will have three candidates on its presidential ballot, Jill Stein of Massachusetts.

There’s not much of a contest at the top of the Democratic ballot here on Tuesday, when polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. President Obama is not opposed for re-nomination and he’ll be the only name listed in the presidential section for Dems. But there will be many other familiar names from the neighborhood on your Democratic sheet: Neighbors who have been selected at local caucuses to win election to ward committee will appear as a slate. There will also be ovals to fill out for Democratic state committee delegates, one man and one woman from each state Senate district.

One other note: If you are unable to vote on Tuesday because of travel or illness, absentee ballots can be sought and cast at Boston City Hall until noon on Monday.

Whether or not there’s a contest on your ballot, we hope our neighborhood will come out in strong numbers to do our civic duty. See you at the polls.


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