Bostonians can head to the polls a little early this fall, if they choose. The city will launch “Early Voting Boston” for the 2018 midterm elections on Mon., Oct. 22. Similar to the early voting that took place before the 2016 presidential elections, this year’s initiative will run for two weeks— through Friday, Nov. 2. During that period, all registered Boston voters will be able to cast their votes before the Nov. 6 general election.
“Ensuring all Boston voters are able to vote conveniently, and on their own schedule, is paramount to ensuring voter turnout,” said Mayor Martin Walsh in a statement. “We have seen in past years the success of early voting, and I am proud that we’ll be able to offer this resource again to our residents, in addition to all the other resources the city provides during election season.”
Dion Irish, the Commissioner of the Elections Department, explained that city officials were “very excited” to offer early voting again, especially following a turnout of almost 50,000 early voters before election day in 2016. This year, however, the initiative features changes meant to make early voting more accessible and efficient for Boston’s voters.
“This year we have built on what we learned from 2016, which is that we need to have sites all across the city that are either in or near every neighborhood,” Irish said. “We have bigger sites for this year, so we are hoping to have faster processing and shorter voter wait times.”
In the locations throughout Boston, officials have expanded the hours at each site in order to increase availability to voters. While the Boston City Hall early voting location will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., community voting locations will be open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on specific dates during early voting weeks.
During the first week, DotHouse Health (Oct. 23) and All Saints Church (Oct. 25) will be open to voters. Over the weekend of Oct. 27-28, Saint John Paul II Catholic Academy Neponset Campus, Perkins Community Center / Joseph Lee School and Mildred Ave. Community Center will welcome voters from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. During the second week, the Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Community Center at 650 Dudley St. will act as an early voting site on Thurs., Nov. 1.
Irish said that election officials selected these locations carefully in an effort to make the experience more pleasant and efficient for voters. “We wanted locations that had lots of space—gymnasiums, large rooms – that would enable us to really queue voters better, check them in faster, have more voting booths available for more people to vote at the same time,” Irish said. “And those things, I think, are going to pay dividends by having locations that allow for us to do this much better than we did last time.”
Early votes will be sent to the voters’ home precincts and counted there, according to Irish, who noted that a database will be notated and cross-referenced to prevent anyone from voting more than once.
“So that is another means of providing accuracy and preventing any potential fraud,” Irish said. “We have a very secure system and a very convenient schedule.”
Voters seeking more information can visit Vote Early Boston’s new website, boston.gov/early-voting.