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Wu victorious in historic election: 2021 Boston mayoral election live updates

Michelle Wu speaking to supporters following her victory
Michelle Wu speaks to supporters Tuesday night at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama following her victory in the Boston mayoral race. SHANNON DAMIANO/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Results as of 2:27 a.m.

Based on the latest unofficial election results released by the City, candidate Michelle Wu won the 2021 Boston Mayoral race with 63.38% of the vote at 100% precincts reporting. Annissa Essaibi George captured only 36.21% of ballots counted. Although results only came into the Elections Department from 30.59% of precincts as of around 10:30 p.m., Essaibi George took the stage at her election night watch party at the Copley Fairmount to concede the race and congratulate Wu, saying, “I want to offer a great big congratulations to Michelle Wu … I know this is no small feat. You know this is no small feat.”

At around 10:40 p.m., Wu addressed her supporters at the Cyclorama in the South End to declare victory and thank them for their encouragement. Wu will take office Nov. 16. 

“If we truly want to deliver change, we need every one of us shaping our future,” Wu said. “Thank you for placing your trust in me to serve as the next Mayor of Boston.”

The unofficial results also show Michael Flaherty leading the tally for the City Councillor At-Large Race with 17.56%. In second is Julia Mejia at 17.21%, the third is Ruthzee Louijeune at 15.08% and the fourth is Erin Murphy with 12.08%. 

Bostonians also overwhelmingly voted to change the City’s budget process to allow amendments from City Council and the Mayor and to directly elect school board members, at 67.27% and 78.70% of the vote respectively. In response to a question about whether to build a new Eversource substation in East Boston, 83.48% of voters said no.

In this historic race, Boston elected its first female Mayor and first Mayor of color for the first time in the 199 years since the seat was created. 

For more complete coverage of voter reactions and impressions of the results, please see our city story here. For additional photographs and contexts, please see our gallery of both candidates’ watch parties.

For our timeline of the live updates of the night, election week campaign updates, and historic context please see below:

UPDATE [1:09 AM]: With 100% of precincts reported at a total of 132,253 ballots, Wu takes 63.12% of the vote and Essaibi George captures 36.46%.

UPDATE [12:04 AM] With one precinct left to be reported, Wu leads Essaibi George 62.78% to 36.81% in the City’s tally, with 99.61% of precincts accounted for.

UPDATE [11:41 PM]: The City’s count now has Wu taking 62.49% of the vote while Essaibi George takes 37.10%. Only 13 precincts have yet to be accounted for with 94.90% of them already reported.

UPDATE [11:55 PM]: “It definitely increased access,” Boston Election Commissioner Eneida Tavares said about drop box and mail-in voting. “Drop box is just added convenience for voters and another secure method that they can use to return their ballot.”

UPDATE [11:42 PM]: With 86.27% of precincts reporting, Wu leads Essaibi George 62.05% to 37.54%. 220 of 255 precincts are now reporting.

UPDATE [11:43 PM]: “We definitely increased our resources,” Boston Election Commissioner Eneida Tavares said about tonight’s vote tallying. “We increased our volunteer efforts, as you can see, so I think we did a number of things just to help reduce the number of ballots that we were left with at the end of the night.”

UPDATE [10:56 PM]: New numbers released by the City show Wu holds 60.82% of votes while Essaibi George falls further behind at 38.78%. 61.96% of precincts are reporting now.

UPDATE [10:41 PM]: The latest numbers to come after Essaibi George’s concession put Wu at 60.03% and Essaibi George at 39.57%, with 52.16% of the precincts reporting. Wu is currently giving her victory speech at the Cyclorama in the South End.

UPDATE [10:38 PM]: City Councilor Andrea Campbell, a former candidate who did not endorse any other candidates after her defeat in the preliminaries, congratulates Wu in a tweet: “You’ve set a bold vision for a healthy, equitable future for all Bostonians and I look forward to partnering with you to do the hard, necessary work.”

She also congratulates Essaibi George’s “courage” and her demonstration of “deep love for Boston in everything” she’s done.

UPDATE [10:24]: Essaibi George congratulates Michelle Wu at her watch party, conceding the Boston 2021 mayoral election. Wu will address her supporters shortly.

UPDATE [10:20 PM]: Newest results from the City put Wu in the lead at 56.19%, while Essaibi George trails at 43.45% with 30.59% of precincts reporting. Essaibi George is currently on stage addressing supporters, and Wu is expected to speak to hers very soon and potentially declare victory.

UPDATE [10:11 PM]: Essaibi George is addressing crowds at her watch party. Wu is set to speak in about 10 minutes, according to reporters on-site at each watch party.

UPDATE [9:41 PM] New numbers reported by the City: Wu holds the lead at 60.41% of the vote while Essaibi George falls to 39.39%, with 12.55% of precincts reporting. So far, Questions 2 — the creation of a new Eversource substation in Chelsea — and 3 — the direct election of school board members — are overwhelmingly leaning NO and YES respectively, while Question 1 concerning the new budget process is leaning towards YES at a slightly smaller margin.

UPDATE [10:00 PM]: “I can’t guarantee a time,” Boston Election Commissioner Eneida Tavares said about if a winner will be declared before midnight. But she said the rate of counting ballots is “definitely” happening faster than the September primaries.

UPDATE [9:40 PM]: A change from September’s primary election, staffers are currently working with electronic votes, including drop box ballots received until mid-afternoon, Alexis Tkachuk, member of the Boston Elections Commission said. “Hopefully that mitigates some of the wait time.”

UPDATE [9:27 PM]: The first unofficial results come through on the City’s website with Wu taking 57.11% of the vote and Essaibi George taking 42.59% of the vote, out of 4,691 ballots received and with 10 out of 255 precincts reporting.

UPDATE [9:10 PM]: Boston police officers have arrived at City Hall with ballots to be counted.

Boston Police officers hold sealed ballot boxes at City Hall Tuesday night. SAMUELE PETRUCCELLI/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

UPDATE [9:00 PM]: Police officers will deliver ballots from drop boxes to City Hall, Emma Pettit, Deputy Press Secretary for the City, said. Considering travel time, their estimated arrival is slated for 9:00 p.m..

UPDATE [8:47 PM]: At least 27 volunteers, in addition to full-time staff, are at City Hall to assist with counting votes, Emma Pettit, Deputy Press Secretary for the City, said.

UPDATE [8:24 PM]: Preliminary results from Ward 3, Precinct 6 show Michelle Wu taking 488 votes and Annissa Essaibi-George behind with 338, with 829 total votes.

UPDATE [8:00 PM]: It’s 8:00 p.m., and polls are closed in Boston for a historic election. At city hall, preliminary results for Ward 3, Precinct 6 will be posted sometime after 8:10 p.m., according to an election official.

The race to become Boston’s next mayor concludes tonight, with either Annissa Essaibi George or Michelle Wu set to be the city’s first elected female mayor and first elected mayor of color after more than a year of campaigning for Wu and 10 months for Essaibi George.

Also on the ballot are the positions for City Council At-Large and District City Council, along with three ballot questions — one for the City’s budget process, one for the creation of a new Eversource substation in East Boston and one to institute the direct election of school board members.

The most recent polling from Suffolk University/Boston Globe/NBC 10 on Oct. 19 shows Wu is ahead with 62% of the vote and Essaibi George is trailing at 30%. Seven percent of voters polled on that date were undecided.

The data follows the trend from the preliminary elections on Sept. 14, where Wu captured first place with 33.4% of the votes and where Essaibi George narrowly beat out City Councilor Andrea Campbell and acting Mayor Kim Janey with 22.5% of the votes for the second place spot.

Campaign activities

This weekend, the candidates traveled all over the city to encourage voters to head to the polls today. Wu visited La Chiva Restaurant in East Boston on Saturday morning and later held an event with Sen. Elizabeth Warren at the Wu campaign’s headquarters near Mattapan to knock on doors. Wu and Warren also visited Pavement Coffeehouse on Commonwealth Avenue Monday morning.

Essaibi George, meanwhile, visited a senior center in Mattapan on Friday, spoke at an event with the Community Mentoring Team in Roxbury Saturday and celebrated Halloween festivities in Charlestown with Boston Bruins left winger Brad Marchand.

The most recent endorsement for Essaibi George came from Boston’s Carmen Union Local 589 on Thursday.

Wu recently received endorsements from former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, Angela Menino, wife of the late former Boston mayor, Thomas Menino and the Bay State Stonewall Democrats. 

This year, Wu has raised more than $2.2 million in campaign contributions since Jan. 1, while Essaibi George has raised $1.9 million. The majority of both of these contributions — 60% for Wu, 57% for Essaibi George — came from places other than Boston, either from nearby towns, such as Brookline, Newton or from out of state completely. Wu had nearly four times the contributions from out of the state compared to Essaibi George.

Recapping the historic campaigns 

Alex Psilakis, the policy and communications director at MassVOTE, explained what Bostonians are looking for in their new mayor.

“Voters really just want to see candidates that reflect their values and their lived experiences, and can empathize with them,” he said. 

He added voters aren’t only focused on the issues that affect their everyday lives, like “[making] sure their potholes are being fixed,” but also on broader issues that would affect the city in the long run, such as equity, climate change and housing.  

Psilakis said transportation and police reform were two other issues Boston voters had in mind when heading to the polls.

Psilakis said both Essaibi George and Wu said the candidates should not ignore the estimated 139,000 students enrolled in Boston’s 29 universities and colleges.

“Young people are becoming more invested, and they’re becoming more eager to have their voice heard in their political system,” Psilakis said.  “Whether or not that will translate to the local races, I’m not sure. I hope it does.”

Psilakis also noted the importance of voting in local elections. 

“We’re always trying to tell people, local elections impact your daily life most, and that’s why they deserve your vote,” he said. 

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