By Allegra Peelor
The only noise came from passing cars and distant construction this morning at Boston Arts Academy, despite the 100 or so voters waiting in a line that snaked around the block.
Five people passed out flyers advocating for or against ballot questions, and a few high school students conducted exit polls. Meanwhile, Fenway-area residents quietly cast their ballots in the first hour of voting today.
Jonathan Haines, a school nurse who has worked for the Boston Public Schools for seven years, handed out flyers to voters near the end of the line, encouraging people to vote “no” on Question 2, which would approve up to 12 new or expanded charter schools every year in Massachusetts if passed.
Haines has never passed out flyers at a polling place before, but he wanted to go to Boston Arts Academy this morning because he said the ballot question will probably affect the families who attend that school.
“Here, parents have to raise money for supplies like instruments,” Haines said. “We need that money to stay here. We need that money to go to public schools.”
A handful of students from Wellesley High School were taking exit polls as a class project. One volunteer, Liam Cranley, will be voting for the first time this year. He said he is a registered Republican but is voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson because Hillary Clinton is “corrupt” and Donald Trump is “just ridiculous.”
“Johnson is fiscally conservative and socially inclusive,” Cranley said. “People should do what they want—the government shouldn’t tell them what to do.”
Julia Loewenthal, a graduate student at Simmons College studying social work, voted at Boston Arts Academy. As she exited the auditorium, she was eager to express her support for Clinton.
“She supports a nation more centered on equality… rather than hate,” Loewenthal, 25, said.
At about 7:15 a.m., poll worker Kyle Greenleaf, 28, stepped out into the 35-degree morning wearing just a blue polo shirt and jeans and started walking down the line, shouting, “Anyone in Ward 21, Precinct 1?”
Greenleaf has never volunteered as a poll worker before, though he is an active voter. He said this election is “probably the most important in recent history,” and he wanted to be more involved in government than he has been in the past.
He had also heard that there might be high voter turnout, even in statistically predictable states like Massachusetts.
“This has been an incredibly divisive election,” Greenleaf said. “Either way, it’s going to set a precedent and a new tone for future elections. It’s critical to make it to the polls.”