Massachusetts Presidential Primary Turnout About 25 Percent

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By Chris Lisinki
State House News Service

The Massachusetts presidential primary came and went Tuesday with little intrigue or surprise, teeing up a rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

And along the way, about one in four registered Bay State voters made their voices heard.

Secretary of State William Galvin said Thursday, March 7 that unofficial tallies show more than 1.2 million Bay Staters cast votes in the presidential primaries. Statistics published by Galvin’s office counted about 4.95 million registered voters as of February 24, the deadline to register to vote in Tuesday’s primaries, so that translates to just a bit less than 25 percent voter turnout.

Galvin’s office said the tally of votes cast Tuesday, March 5 is expected to increase later this week as local elections officials certify write-in votes, blank votes, and provisional ballots.

Based on the preliminary numbers, the turnout rate tells two different stories.

Roughly three-quarters of registered Massachusetts voters decided to stay on the sidelines in a presidential primary that prior to the voting seemed likely to end the way it did. At the same time, a higher share of voters cast ballots this time around than in previous cycles with an incumbent president seeking re-election.

Participation was less robust than the finalized results in 2020 (1.7 million votes cast, 37.1 percent turnout) and 2016 (1.86 million votes cast, 43.6 percent turnout), according to state elections data. With Biden seeking a second term, more Bay Staters were engaged than in primaries when incumbent presidents ran for re-election in 2012 (529,542 votes cast, 12.9 percent turnout), 2004 (696,636 votes cast, 17.9 percent turnout), and 1996 (455,362 votes cast, 14.4 percent turnout).

Galvin’s office said the more than 567,000 votes in the Republican primary represented the second highest total for that contest in state history, lagging only the 2016 iteration, when Trump won his first nomination.

On the Democratic side, more than 632,000 people cast ballots, which Galvin’s office described as “the highest in recent history in which an incumbent president was on the ballot.”

The state’s top elections official, himself a Democrat, attributed the comparatively robust participation to the continuation of pandemic-era reforms like mail-in ballots and expanded early voting hours.

Only 51.8 percent of all Massachusetts ballots cast in the Democratic and Republican primaries occurred on Election Day, according to Galvin. The remainder were either submitted early or as absentee, almost entirely by mail.

“There is little doubt that the availability of Vote by Mail ballots helped drive turnout in this primary,” Galvin said. “It is a testament to the success of our Vote by Mail program that nearly half of those who voted did so with a mail-in ballot.”

Trump cruised to victory with about 60 percent of the vote, according to tallies from the Associated Press. Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who was Trump’s last remaining major opponent and suspended her campaign after a string of Super Tuesday losses, got nearly 37 percent of the total.

Biden secured about 83 percent of the vote, followed most closely by more than 9 percent of voters listing “no preference.”


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