BOSTON — Hundreds of people swarmed Fenway Park on Saturday, not to celebrate the Red Sox but to vote. The storied baseball venue is one of the city’s 21 early voting sites as in-person election season begins in Massachusetts.
After the sun broke up early morning showers and chased a chill out of the air, people waited more than an hour in a line that snaked from Gate A, three quarters away around the ballpark that is open for voting just this weekend.
Many people cited their busy schedules as the reason for waiting in a long line on the first day.
“I’m a full-time student and I have a full-time job, so I wanted to make sure I could vote because I don’t know when else that could be,” said Caroline Olesky, 20, an undergrad at Boston University from California who planned to vote for Biden.
“Voting is legitimately one of my favorite things to do, because I like the feeling of exercising my rights that other people fought for,” Lindsay Ford, 36, a Democrat and digital marketing specialist said after voting for Biden.
Voters here and in surrounding communities expressed feelings ranging from distrust to ambivalence about mail-in voting this year, even though many had used mail ballots in previous elections.
“It’s not that I don’t trust the mail-in process, but I want to be there in person to put the ballot in to make sure it gets counted,” Shawn Theriault, 52, said before voting at City Hall in Chelsea, Mass.
Jim Shea, 46, a safety manager at a local company, said he didn’t trust the mail-in system and wanted to make sure his ballot for Trump was counted right in front of him. “It’s a fraudulent system,” he said of mail-in voting. “Too many ballots end up in the wrong place or in the trash.”
There is no evidence of significant problems with mail-in ballots in Massachusetts. But nearly 3,000 mail-in ballots in September’s Democratic primary, which featured a closely watched race between incumbent Sen. Edward J. Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy were misplaced and uncounted in Franklin, Mass. The town clerk resigned days later.
According to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, 1.75 million people requested absentee ballots as of Friday, 96 percent of which had been mailed out.
“There’s no comparison to this year,” said Debra O’Malley, a spokeswoman for Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin. “We’ve never had no-excuse absentee voting before. Typically 3 to 5 percent vote absentee. Right now, we’re just shy of 38 percent.”