Cape Cod Towns See Lower Early Voter Turnout Than Expected

HYANNIS – Early voting may not be as popular as it was when it was first enacted in Massachusetts in 2016.

Town clerks across Cape Cod say that the total amount of people participating in early voting within the first few days of its availability is down by 50% from the same time frame in 2016.

Town clerks in Sandwich, Barnstable, Dennis and Harwich all report significantly reduced early voter turnout.

Many political analysts are left surprised as political rhetoric has reached peak levels, leading them to predict a large voter turnout this year. 

Sandwich Town Clerk Taylor White said the town has had 620 early voters in the first three days this year, a 36-percent drop from the 969 early voters in the first three days of 2016.

“Sandwich has definitely seen a decrease. We’re about the same as the other Cape towns and about half of what we processed at this point in 2016. In 2016 we processed about 4,300 and that was an average of about 400 per day during the early voting period 2016,” said White.

“We are on track right now average-wise for only about 200 per day. We’re expecting that trend might increase a little bit. I know that in 2016 as it got closer to election-day we did see an increase in our average per day processing of early voting ballots. I expect it’ll be probably the middle to the end of next week when our numbers hit high,” he said.

In Barnstable, Town Clerk Ann Quirk reports a 55-percent drop from 2016, with only 222 early voters in the first three days this year compared to 491 in 2016.

“I guarantee you that if this was a presidential race it probably would mean more turnout than we’ve had because that really does bring everybody out to vote. I think it was kind of a lousy day on Monday if I recall weather-wise. That may have had something to do with it too,” stated Quirk.

Dennis has also seen half of the 2016 early voter turnout in the opening three days of early voting this year, according to Town Clerk Terri Bruce.

Harwich Town Clerk Anita Doucette estimates the town will accommodate roughly 2,000 early voters this year, compared to the 3,700 that turned out two years ago.

It’s worth noting that 2016 was a presidential election, which typically attracts more voters and significantly raises the overall turnout.

By TIM DUNN, News Center

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