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Sluggish voter turnout in Mass., Boston for Senate special election

Even though Democratic candidate Ed Markey and Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez campaigned until the end of the day, few voters went to polls to cast ballots in the Tuesday special election to fill Secretary of State John Kerry’s vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Voters had to deal with high temperatures on Tuesday in order to cast their ballot, said Mass. Secretary of State William Galvin in a press conference on Monday. However, the race was already at the back of people’s minds due to the Boston Marathon bombings and the Boston Bruins bid for the Stanley Cup, he said.

“The turnout appears to be very weak at this point,” he said. “There just hasn’t been an interest in the race. We don’t usually have elections in heat waves.”

A mere 92,137 voters turned out to cast their ballots in Boston, compared to 153,270 who voted in the 2010 special election between Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley to fill the seat left vacant by the death of U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy Kennedy, according to Massachusetts election statistics.

Despite the heat, several residents went to various polling locations around Boston to cast their vote. Gomez voted in his hometown of Cohasset and Markey voted in Malden.

Christine O’Toole, 50, resident of West Roxbury, said she woke up early to vote so she could beat the high temperatures.

“I just wanted to make sure I got to the polls before a crowd did or before it became a scorcher,” she said.

O’Toole said she voted for Gomez because she agreed with his stances on economic policy, especially the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“This project would create jobs and help us rely less on imported oil,” she said. “We really should keep an open mind and start moving this project forward. It can only help us.”

Omar Rodriguez, 23, resident of Boston, said he is a registered Democrat, but voted for Gomez before he went to work.

“This may be my first Republican vote ever,” he said. “I just think we need someone in Congress right now who is willing to reach across party lines and get things done. I don’t think Markey is that guy.”

Rodriguez said he agrees with how Gomez will handle gun control and that a background check bill should be passed.

James Morgan, 53, resident of Quincy, said he was the first voter in his ward and precinct to vote.

“I think it’s my civic duty to vote, and I beat the heat by going early, so I killed two birds with one stone,” he said.

Morgan said he voted for Markey because of his political ideology and experience in Congress.

“Markey has been in Congress for over 30 years,” he said. “He’s been doing a good job and I don’t see why he won’t continue his success in the Senate. Gomez doesn’t have the same experience as Markey.”

Robert McCarthy, 55, resident of Malden, said many people cast their ballots early in his area.

“Probably because everyone wanted to see Markey when he was here, I know many people who came early to vote,” he said.

McCarthy said he voted for Markey because he supported several aspects of Markey’s agenda.

“I agree with him on gun control, abortion rights, economics and how to handle foreign policy, especially with Syria,” he said. “I don’t think Gomez has what it takes to deal with huge issues like these. Markey has been doing it for a while and knows how Washington [D.C.] works.”

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