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Mass. voter turnout commendable, but "not quite historical yet," mayor says

In 2016, Haley worked as a staff writer, then Associate City News Editor for The Daily Free Press at Boston University. Haley interviewed voters at Copley Square, then reported on Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh's press conference on Election Night 2016. This article was first published by the DFP at https://dailyfreepress.com/blog/2016/11/09/mass-voter-turnout-commendable-not-quite-historical-yet-mayor-says/.

The polls have closed, the winner has been chosen and Boston voter turnout was “not quite historical yet.” By Tuesday night, over 3 million people had voted in Massachusetts, according to the Associated Press. Boston ended with 269,510 voters according, to the Boston Elections Department. Mayor Martin Walsh said voter turnout in the city surpassed that of the 2008 turnout, but it’s unclear if it will surpass 2012’s.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won in the Commonwealth’s 11 electoral votes with 61 percent of the vote, according to the AP.

Of the total number of voters in Boston, 11.5 percent voted early from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4, according to a press release from Walsh’s office.

At a press conference Tuesday night at City Hall concerning Election Day and voter turnout, Walsh said the passing of Ballot Question 4 — the legalization of recreational marijuana — will require planning.

“We don’t have zoning regulations in place right now [for marijuana dispensaries] because of the statewide ballot [initiative],” Walsh said at the conference. “We’re going to have a major problem … and the legislature is going to have to act at some point.”

Before Question 2 was officially rejected later in the night, Walsh said the initiative — which will allow the commonwealth to approve the establishment of 12 new charter schools each year — would not pass in the City of Boston.

“I think an increase in charter schools would have a significant financial impact on the city, and on cities and towns around Massachusetts. It would potentially force us in the city of Boston … to have to look into shutting some of our schools down,” said Walsh.

During the 9:00 press conference, Walsh captured the thoughts of many voters as he described his feelings about the incoming election results at the time.

“There’s no surprises yet,” Walsh said. “I think it’s playing out the way most people thought it would.”

What led voters in Boston and across the Bay State toward their choices? Reporters from The Daily Free Press interviewed voters at various Boston voting locations to find out.

City Hall

Danielle Murphy, 29, of the Financial District, said she was confident in casting her vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson, despite the popular view that voting third party is a waste of a vote. She said she was pleased with the simple polling process.

“I don’t enjoy the other two candidates, and I actually really like what Johnson stands for … I like how he’s trying to end a two-party system,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier with how City Plaza organized [the voting].”

Camellia Browne, 50, of Beacon Hill, said she is a registered independent, but ultimately decided to vote for Clinton. As a dual citizen of the United States and the United Kingdom, Browne said the outcome of the election would determine what country she and her daughter choose to live in.

“I don’t like what Trump is standing for, don’t like it whatsoever,” Browne said. “We’ll wake up tomorrow and see who’s president, and that’ll determine where we live.”

Jackson/Mann K-8 School

Anne Marie Garrity, 80, of Brighton said she felt confident in her vote for Clinton.

“I think she’s got courage to withstand all the propaganda that’s floating around her, and she did admit she made a mistake with those stupid emails, but I pray to God she will do good because I think she has heart in caring for the country,” she said. “Unfortunately, I don’t feel that way at all about Trump.”

Adam Liderman, 27, of Allston said he voted for Jill Stein because of his dislike for both Clinton and Trump.

“I voted for Jill Stein because I didn’t want to vote for Donald or Hillary,” he said. “Neither of them have really acted in a way that’s earned my vote or is really what the country needs in any way.”

Liderman said he was most passionate about Question 4.

“I voted ‘yes’ for marijuana legalization,” Liderman said. “I feel the strongest over marijuana legalization simply because we all know better and it’s time.”

Copley Square

Aja Watkins, 21, of Fenway, said she was against Question 2. Charter schools, Watkins said, would only serve a select few, diverting resources away from public schools.

“I care a lot about students. I care a lot about kids,” she said. “They’re our future. They’re going to be the next voters, the next citizens, and so I want to provide for them the greatest opportunities. I think the best way to do that is through equal and fair public education.”

Felice Mendell, 66, of South End, said she supported Question 5, a ballot question exclusive to Boston that proposes a property tax increase to fund community preservation.

“It’s social justice,” she said. “All this very very high-cost housing is being built all over the city, and people are being — the values are going up, so people are being pushed out. And people who have lived in the city of Boston for many, many years are getting pushed out. So, for me it’s a question of just plain justice.”

Fenway High School

Maureen Pierce, 36, of Fenway, said voting in this election was a “tough decision,” as there were various aspects to factor in.

“There was really no good person on the ballot,” she said. “I don’t know if it really matters — Clinton. I don’t feel that Trump was a good choice.”

Julianne Papetsas, 32, of Fenway, said she voted “no” on Question 4 because she has seen the negative effects of marijuana first hand.

“I voted no on that though because I’ve seen too many people in my life use marijuana in destructive ways,” she said. “I definitely fear that this something that is going to be abused. I worry it’s going to open up this culture where drugs are made readily available.”

Massachusetts State House

Dave Watson, 50, of Beacon Hill, said he voted for Donald Trump, although he struggled to make his decision.

“I just didn’t like either candidate,” he said “I didn’t like her a little bit more.”

Jared Schultz, 30, of Beacon Hill, voted for Clinton, but said he had to put a lot of thought into the decision before casting his vote. Schultz said he considered not voting at all, but in the end decided that he did not want to see Trump in office.

“I actually thought about taking the Baker approach because he didn’t vote either,” he noted. “But then, you know, Trump is just too horrible that I’m voting for Hillary.”

Alex Peña, Kalina Newman, Sabrina Schnur, Shannon Larson, Ashley Griffin, Stephanie Buckingham and Andres Picon contributed reporting to this article.

A previous version of this story stated Question 2 officially passed rather than Question 2 was officially rejected. This correction is reflected in the story above.