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Editorial: Head to the primary polls

Massachusetts voters have the opportunity to influence the way their government works next Tuesday. That’s when the Democrats and Republicans are holding their respective primaries, which will put the top candidates in the running for the November election.

Voters should make their voices heard at this time, including those who are currently unenrolled in either party. State election law allows unenrolled but registered voters, who have not officially aligned themselves with a particular party, to choose a party ballot on Tuesday and thus participate.

One would think that allowing the unenrolled or “independent” voters to cast ballots in the primary would drive up the numbers at the polls. Chances are a number of such voters planning to participate Tuesday, but a number of political observers are expecting an overall low turnout at the polls. This includes Secretary of State Bill Galvin who thinks that turnout might not even make the 20 percent threshold for registered voters.

Normally, if there weren’t many contested races, we could understand this. This year, however, with Gov. Deval Patrick’s decision not to seek re-election, there is competition within the two parties to pick their gubernatorial candidate. Nor do the choices stop with the governor’s seat. Democrats will have their pick of three candidates running for lieutenant governor, two for attorney general and three for state treasurer.

While other than governor, the Republican Party in Massachusetts has no contested races going into the primary. That may be the result of the continual uphill climb that the party faces statewide as well as the relatively low number of citizens who are declared Republicans. According to state figures from 2012, there were more than three times the number of registered Democrats as compared to Republicans in Massachusetts.

And undeclared voters surpassed both parties, combined.

Still those living in the 2nd Franklin District, there is a Republican race for state representative, in which Susannah Whipps Lee and Karen R. Anderson are vying for the opportunity to face off against incumbent representative Democrat Denise Andrews. That contest, we would think would be enough of a draw so that the district beats the predictions for low turnouts.

Actually, we would like to think that voters of all stripes would be heading to the polls Tuesday. Even though these are partisan affairs, the primary elections afford voters a chance to shape the direction of their party — and possibly the state — down the road.

It’s easy to complain about politics and Massachusetts government — but an informed and ACTIVE electorate is necessary for change ... and that can start Tuesday.

Are you going to vote?

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