Poll Reports: High Turnouts Around the Neighborhood
Pollworkers gearing up for final hours of voting.
Turnout has been steady and high at all four of the neighborhood's polling places today. Lines were reported at times at the Zelma Lacey House and Harvard-Kent Elementary School. Following a brief mid-afternoon lull, pollworkers are bracing themselves for another burst of voters after 5 p.m.
A chilly start at Golden Age Senior Center
It was a cool and windy Election Day morning, outside of the Golden Age Senior Center when Paul Johnson, a 54-year-old retiree, came out to cast his vote for Steve Grossman, a Democrat running for state treasurer, and Gov. Deval Patrick, because "the governor deserves another chance." His opinions seemed to fit in well with the signs that were surrounding the Golden Age Center, mostly representing Grossman and Patrick.
When asked specifically how he felt about Question 3, which would reduce the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent, Johnson said he voted against cutting the sales tax.
"I just think it would be cutting basic service," he said. "That's what they always do, they always end up hitting the poor and the needy."
Lines at the Zelma Lacey House, mid-morning
There were moments when voters were waiting in line at the Zelma Lacey House just to cast their ballots. Clerk Eileen Locke noted the turnout was "way above average." Despite the rush, there was a friendly buzz of excitement in the air and Locke said everything was going smoothly: "We have a system, we have a good rhythm going."
Signs for Patrick and Grossman dominated the crowd outside the Zelma Lacey House, too, and hung from the telephone polls along West School Street. After voting, Mark Sullivan, 36, said he was supporting Patrick simply because "I've never voted Republican and I'm not starting now."
Sullivan also had strong opinions against reducing the Massachusetts state sales tax, calling the idea both "stupid" and "irresponsible" because he feels it wouldn't be enough of a difference to actually help any residents. "Not that I want to be taxed more," he said, "but I don't think we're unfairly burdened."
Questions about ballot questions at Edwards Middle School, 1 p.m.
Around the state, voters are being asked to weigh in on ballot questions about taxes and housing law, but in Charlestown residents are also being asked to weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A fourth, non-binding question was added to the local ballot by a group called Massachusetts Residents for International Human Rights. But it seems a lack of media coverage and local campaigning on the issue left a few voters at the Edwards Middle School on Tuesday scratching their heads about what it all meant.
The question asks voters whether they would like their state representatives to pass a resolution that would direct Israel to grant full rights to Palestinian people. John Spritzler, a volunteer behind the initiative, said there was no particular reason why it was put on the Charlestown ballot. It just so happened that a volunteer with Massachusetts Residents for International Human Rights lives in the neighborhood and collected signatures there.
Several residents at the polls said it was worded poorly and that they weren't sure what they were voting for. One resident even thought the question implied Israeli Arabs are not allowed to hold office.
A fight for affordable housing at Harvard-Kent, 3 p.m.
Omar Larrama spent the afternoon stumping against Question 2 outside of Harvard-Kent Elementary School on his own with no political ties. The question, if approved, would repeal 40B, a state law that was designed to foster development of affordable housing. It's been criticized as a way for developers to take away local control from the building process.
Larrama said people have been asking him questions about what the Question 2 means and what happens if they vote yes or no.
"I live in housing and think it's important for people to know about this, so I came out with the hope of influencing a few voters. I think about half of people voting have done research and the other half have an idea but not details, so I've been able to help them out," he said.