District attorney race may push primary turnout over 20% in some parts of Berkshires


PITTSFIELD — Local election officials are expecting the three-way race for Berkshire District Attorney to draw an above-average turnout in Tuesday's primary election.

Some city and town clerks are predicting turnout of 20 percent or more, a relatively high figure for a nonpresidential election.

"It's been busy," said Williamstown Town Clerk Mary Kennedy. "I think the [District Attorney] race has really picked this thing up."

Marie Ryan, town clerk in Great Barrington, is also expecting a busier primary day. "There's been more absentees than normal for a primary," she said.

The Democratic race for Berkshire District Attorney features incumbent Paul Caccaviello and challengers Andrea Harrington and Judith Knight. There are no candidates on the Republican ballot.

Other key races include the Democratic contests for House of Representatives and gubernatorial candidate. On the Republican side, voters will choose one of three candidates vying to face U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren in November's general election.

With nearly one-third of the county's registered voters, the sentiment in Pittsfield will be key in the tightly contested Berkshire District Attorney race.

Pittsfield has issued 370 absentee ballots, according to City Clerk Michele Benjamin. Voter turnout on Tuesday is difficult to predict.

"We're hoping for 22 percent. Other people are not expecting to break 20 [percent], so we're guesstimating," Benjamin said. "Over the weekend it'll depend with those different campaigns how active they are. I know they're all pushing."

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In 2014, the state primary drew only 11.1 percent of the city's voters. "We're aiming high," Benjamin said.

Holding an election the day following a holiday — Labor Day is on Monday — is expected to hurt voter turnout. "It's not what any of the city or town clerks want, it's a damper," Benjamin said.

Based on the low number of absentee ballots submitted, North Adams City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau does not expect high voter turnout among the city's 8,699 registered voters — perhaps 10 to 12 percent when all the votes are counted.

However, Gomeau noted that among those who have come in to cast an absentee ballot, the most-discussed race appears to be that for Berkshire District Attorney.

Polls are open statewide from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters can learn if they are registered to vote, their polling location, and what their ballot will look like on the Secretary of the Commonwealth's website, www.sec.state.ma.us.

The Berkshire Eagle has also assembled its coverage leading up to the election and information for voters at https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/sept-4-2018-primary-election-day,549071.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.



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