Politics and Economics

Historically High Turnout in Recent Norton Primary

Just over four thousand Norton residents cast their votes in the September primaries. More than two thousand voters mailed in their ballots to cast their vote, and just under two thousand voters cast their votes in-person at Norton Middle School. According to the Massachusetts Secretary of State website, 13,511 Norton residents were registered voters for the primaries which means that the total electoral turnout was a historically high 31.68 percent.

Norton and the rest of Bristol County (with the exception of Easton and Mansfield) still lagged behind the average turnout of the whole district, which was 35.8 percent of registered voters. However, the historically high turnout still marks this election as the only primary election in the past 15 years to break 20 percent turnout in Norton. The next highest turnout rate in Norton (for primary elections) was 19 percent in the 2006 primary election.

This election was the first in years to feature both competitive Democratic Senate and Demoratic Congressional races. Joe Kennedy III stepped down from his seat as the representative of Massachusetts’ 4th district to challenge incumbent Ed Markey for the Senate seat. A large pool of 14 total candidates initially registered to run for Kennedy’s former Congressional seat, although only nine total remained by the time that voters cast their votes. Wheaton political science professor Bradford Bishop referred to both races as “hotly contested,” and noted that both the competitiveness of the Senate rate and “local connection [of Kennedy] to the 4th district” likely led to increased voter turnout in Norton.

Congressional candidate Benjamin Sigel, a lawyer who lives in Brookline, noted that most of the candidates in the race didn’t visit the south areas of the district, and only came down to visit Fall River, Tanton, or to receive an endorsement. Sigel believes that candidates will visit Norton more in future elections due to the growing prominence of Wheaton College, as well as the fact that Norton has had a steadily increasing number of voters every year since the early 2000s. Sigel visited Norton multiple times while on the campaign trail.

The Congressional primaries were won by Jake Auchincloss on the Democratic ballot and Julie Hall on the Republican ballot, with the majority of Norton residents voting for their respective party’s winner. The Senate primaries were won by Ed Markey on the Democratic ballot and Kevin O’Connor on the Republican ballot, with the majority of Norton residents voting for Kennedy over Markey and voting for O’Connor over his challenger. The general election will take place on November 3rd.