Mitt Romney is expected to take the Massachusetts primary, but experts are predicting record-low turnout.
By Jacob Soboroff
BOSTON — What happens when a reporter goes on the hunt for young voters in a state with 969,000 of them on Super Tuesday? He finds two — and a guy waiting for a bus — at the state's largest university.
At Boston University, over the course of the lunch hour, only two students came into the polling place at Myles Standish Hall to exercise their civic duty. Ben Nichols and Simon Wentzell cast ballots at a polling place on campus where a quick walk-through revealed everything was going smoothly — but the number of poll workers outnumbered voters by far.
So where is everybody?
Nichols, an independent voter who supports Texas Congressman Ron Paul, said he wasn't surprised. "It's a primary. They don't usually get nearly as many voters as an actual election," he said. As to why he turned out, the first-time voter said, "To be honest, I live right there. That's my room. So it kind of helps."
Wentzell, a member of the BU College Democrats, was also greeted by a lack of fellow voters. "It's been pretty empty, seems like, so far," he said. The low turnout didn't get the best of the 19-year-old's political optimism, though. "It's a little disappointing. But it's a little early and we are one of many districts."
A Boston elections official tells me — no joke — that there was a 2.5 percent voter turnout citywide as of noon. In former Governor Mitt Romney's home state. Then again, the traditionally blue state wasn't expected to put up record-high numbers in a year when only the GOP side of the equation is being decided. With an incumbent Democrat waiting in the wings in the form of President Obama, many Massachusetts voters appear to be keeping their powder dry for the general election in November.
While he is looking at potential runner-up finishes in a number of Southern states and an uncomfortably close race in key swing state Ohio, Romney is expected to cruise to an easy victory in Massachusetts, where 41 delegates are at stake on a day when a total of 419 delegates are in the mix.
On the sidewalk outside, though, as he squatted waiting for the bus, Aaron S. wouldn't be adding to that vote total because he said he wasn't voting and wasn't interested.
"Around 11 o'clock — or is it 12? — most people are already in class," he explained. Dressed in a pair of SpongeBob SquarePants pajama bottoms, the physics major said it wasn't a matter of Boston being a Democratic town or kids getting ready for spring break that was keeping turnout down.
"I spend most of my time in the lab," he said. With that, he got on the bus in front of the polling place and rolled away.
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