Voting made quick and easy at East Boston High School

A polling sign outside the East Boston High School gymnasium on Election Day 2018. Photo by Andrew Mason / BU News Service

By Andrew Mason and Emily Carson
Boston University News Service

“Long lines” and “not enough time” are two excuses often cited when people are asked why they don’t vote. But at East Boston High School, many voters had a different experience on Tuesday’s election day.

In mid-October, East Boston State Representative, Adrian Madaro expressed concern that his constituents would be drawn away from heading to the polls due to busy schedules.

However, between 10:30 and 11:30 Tuesday morning, voters took an average of eight to 11 minutes to enter the building, cast their votes and leave.

Poll observers working for Election Protection with Common Cause aided the process. the group’s mission is to make sure people know their voting rights and how to fill out ballots properly.

East Boston High School gymnasium, a polling place for Ward 1. Photo by Emily Carson / BU News Service

Fran Adams, a 62-year-old first-time poll observer, noted how her team’s efforts seemed to make the voting process more efficient.

“It’s been going really well. We haven’t had lineups,” said Adams. “There seems to be enough people here trying to grease the wheels and keep things going well.”

While there was a flurry of early morning activity, polling officials prepared for a larger turnout around noon, then another wave between 4 and 8 Tuesday evening, when many voters got off work.

“I’ve heard people say [it takes too long to vote], but honestly it doesn’t take any time at all,” said 22-year-old Suffolk University graduate, Elektra Newman, who took six minutes total to cast her ballot. “It took me longer to walk here than it did to vote.”

Newman said it was her first time voting at this polling station, and she admitted that East Boston High School ran more smoothly than she where has voted in the past.

“I’m glad I could spot easily where everyone was supposed to go here,” she said.

Some voters, such as Adam Fullerton, 29, even had time to buy food from the polling station’s bake sale. Fullerton emphasized that the process felt straightforward thanks to guidance from polling officials.

“Anywhere in East Boston, from the experience of myself and my friends, it has been a very easy process. It doesn’t add much time to the day,” said Fullerton, who took approximately 10 minutes to vote on Tuesday morning. “Probably half that time was spent text messaging.”

There were only a few minor hold ups at the polls prior to noon, notably that the machine checking the ballots had to be examined at one point because officials thought there might be an issue.

Nonetheless, longtime East Boston resident Lucy Ryan had no trouble voting.

“It was quick, taking into consideration my mobility,” said Ryan, who is 86.

Another issue at the East Boston High School polling station was the lack of an official greeter directing people where to go as they entered. However, Adams and her Election Protection team solved the problem themselves while still helping voters submit their ballots.

“My colleague just drove someone to a different polling station because he wasn’t registered here,” Adams said. “We are going hard after every single person’s vote, and that feels like what democracy is all about.”

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