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Trump Expected To Drive Record Voter Turnout In Massachusetts

woman holds Donald Trump sign and small American flag

Voters in Massachusetts have been showing up at the polls in steady numbers today for the primaries that could go a long way in determining who the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees will be. 

The state’s top election official, Secretary of State Bill Galvin says it’s possible there will be a record turnout today for the Republican presidential primary.

Since the first of the year, 20,000 Democrats have left the party in Massachusetts, with most re-registering as un-enrolled. Galvin believes they’ve done this so they can take a Republican ballot today and vote for Donald Trump.

The bombastic businessman’s rise to the top of the Republican race has generated a lot of interest, even in this bluest of blue states, according to Springfield Election Commissioner Gladys Oyola.

" Its one of those things. It takes a combination of the right candidate, the right race, and the right election year," said Oyola.

 Gail Manley was holding a Trump sign at the entrance to the parking lot for a polling place in Springfield’s Sixteen Acres Neighborhood.  She said passing motorists have been honking their horns and giving her the thumbs-up.

" It has been all positive," Manley said of the reaction from passersbys. " I feel as though people are frustrated."

Outside the polling place at the Greenleaf Community Center, Kenneth Norman said he voted for Trump because he’s fed up with politicians.

" They all have rhetoric. They say things but don't do it. He's ( Trump) been successful, so we'll see what happens," said Norman.

But lifelong Republican Fran Castor said she voted for Marco Rubio and wants anybody but Trump to get the nomination.

" He has no manners and he's just a bully, a plain old bully," said Castor.

While Trump is getting credit for a surge in voter turnout on the Republican side, Oyola credits Bernie Sanders with attracting new voters as he battles Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

" From what I've seen here in the office, we have a younger population making sure they are registered and have said they are voting for Sanders. How that will impact the city-wide vote, I'm not sure. A lot of the Latino population is voting for Hillary," said Oyola.

Christine Anderson said she votes infrequently, but went to the polls today to cast a vote for Sanders.

" He seems to be for the people and not in the pockets of big companies," she said.

Muriel Kneeskern said she voted for Clinton.

" She's got experience. She's been in the White House before and I think she'll do a good job," she said.

Although the Clinton-Sanders contest has been hard fought with T.V. ads and competing rallies, Galvin said he does not sense the same level of voter interest as there was in 2008.  The Democratic primary that year between Clinton and Barack Obama drew 1.2 million people to the polls.

500,000 people took a Republican ballot in 2008 when former Gov. Mitt Romney ran against the eventual nominee John McCain.  This year, Galvin said it is possible 700,000 people will pick a Republican ballot.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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