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November 6, 2012

Down to the wire

Voters, candidates ready for historic election

After months of fiercely fought campaigns, it all comes down to today.

With intense interest in races from president to the region’s U.S. senator and representative as well as state races — many of which are too close to call — driving participation, area city and town clerks are bracing for record-breaking turnout at the polls.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin is projecting today’s turnout will top that of 2008 when a record 3.1 million Massachusetts voters cast ballots.

Galvin predicted between 3.1 million to as many as 3.2 million Massachusetts residents out of a pool of 4.34 million eligible voters — or between 71.4 percent and 73.7 percent of registered voters — will turn out today.

Polls in Massachusetts are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Polls in New Hampshire are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The greatest participation rate in Massachusetts dating back to 1948 is still the 1960 presidential contest won by John F. Kennedy when 2.5 million residents, or 91.7 percent, voted, according to Galvin’s office.

Massachusetts voters during the 2008 presidential election set a record in the state for votes cast and marked the highest voting percentage, at 73.5 percent, since the 1996 presidential election year when 75.1 percent of registered voters turned out.

Here’s what is being expected in local communities:

Newburyport

City officials here say that they are expecting a heavy turnout, perhaps higher than that of four years ago.

“There was about an 88 percent turnout in 2008,” City Clerk Richard Jones said. “Indications are it could be a little stronger, perhaps 90 percent.”

Close to 1,145 absentee ballots had been received by yesterday afternoon. In 2008, absentee ballots numbered 1,136.

Newburyport has 13,852 registered voters, according to city records. The city added 1,200 new registrants and deleted 600 non-active names this fall, municipal leaders said.

The following are voting locations:

Ward 1P, Plum Island boathouse, 300 Northern Blvd.; Ward 1, People’s United Methodist Church, 64 Purchase St.; Ward 2, Brown School, Lime and Milk streets; Wards 3 and 4, Hope Community Church, 11 Hale St.; Wards 5 and 5, Bresnahan School, 333 High St.

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