Galvin: Prez race, ballot questions may lead to record turnout

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STATE HOUSE — With seven weeks until Election Day, registered Massachusetts voters can expect to find a red booklet in their mailboxes in the coming days that will detail each of the four ballot questions they will face in the voting booth.

As required by the state Constitution, Secretary of State William Galvin this week began mailing voter information booklets to all registered voters in the state. The booklet includes the full text of each of the four ballot questions, a summary of each question as prepared by the attorney general, pro and con statements from question supporters and opponents, the one-sentence statement that will accompany the question on the ballot, and other voting information.

Voters in greater Boston can expect to receive their booklets as soon as Tuesday, with delivery expected elsewhere in the state within the week, Galvin said Tuesday. The booklet will also be available at post offices and other public locations, online, and printed in Spanish.

“We hope that as these voters receive this booklet it will give them the opportunity to consider these questions and to make final decisions on these questions that will be before them,” Galvin said.

Question 1 would expand slot machine gambling in Massachusetts by allowing one additional license to be issued for a site with specific criteria that matches closely with Suffolk Downs. An initiative to expand the number of charter schools in underperforming school districts will be Question 2. Question 3 proposes to restrict the confinement of farm animals and require that all eggs sold in the state come from hens that have enough room to stand up and turn around freely. Question 4 would legalize the adult use of marijuana and regulates its sale like alcohol.

“It’s a diverse group of questions, as you can see from the titles, and certainly is something we want people to be well-informed of,” Galvin said. “There is already a significant amount of money being expended on advertising on some of these questions, and so therefore we are anxious for people to have the opportunity to make sure they know exactly what the issue before them is.”

Included inside the voter information booklet is a voter registration form, which Galvin said is included in case a voter needs to change his or her address or if another person in their household needs to register.

Those forms must be returned to local election officials by Oct. 19, the final day to register to vote in order to cast a ballot on Nov. 8.

Galvin said this week marks the “kickoff of our final drive on voter registration” and he expects a “very heavy surge” of registration right up to the Oct. 19 deadline given the widespread interest in the presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

“It is a fact that many voters don’t register except to vote for president and don’t vote except to vote for president,” Galvin said. “We know we have a large burden ahead of us to make sure everyone is properly registered.”

Voters will pick the 45th president of the United States in just 49 days and four months from Tuesday the newest president will be inaugurated.

Galvin said Tuesday he expects at least as many voters will go to the polls Nov. 8 as did four years ago. As of the September primaries, Massachusetts had 4.37 million registered voters.

“In the last two presidential cycles, we’ve had over 3 million ballots cast here in Massachusetts, which have been successively records. I certainly anticipate that that will probably be the case again,” Galvin said, adding that it is too early for him to predict total turnout. “I think given the intensity of this particular presidential choice, the diversity of these ballot questions and other issues, I think it’s quite probable that we’ll reach that.”

— Written by Colin A. Young

Copyright State House News Service