What to know ahead of Election Day in Boston

Local News

New faces are guaranteed to fill a few open spots on City Council, and incumbents are being challenged throughout Boston.

A total of 80 Massachusetts communities will hold elections Tuesday, including Boston, where voters will reshape City Council after a tumultuous few years. 

Residents can make sure they are registered to vote and check their polling locations using the Secretary of State’s website. Boston is divided into 9 districts, each represented by a member of City Council. Some of these have contested races, but not all. There are also eight at-large city council candidates, and residents throughout the city can vote for up to four of them. 

Boston residents can find out who will be on their ballots and which districts they reside by using the city’s website. After a contentious redistricting process, councilors redrew voting maps to reflect population changes earlier this year. Those new maps do not go into effect until 2024, but interested residents can also see if their representation will change in the new year. 

Polling locations in Boston will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Polling hours vary by community. 

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Mail-in ballots were available to Massachusetts residents ahead of the elections, but Secretary of State William Galvin said Friday that voters who had not already mailed their ballots back in should instead submit them by hand before polls close. Mail can take up to a week to be delivered, and ballots in this week’s elections must be received by the close of polls in order to be counted. Last November, ballots postmarked by Election Day had 3 additional days to arrive in the mail.

In Boston, voters can submit their ballots at drop boxes throughout the city. Their locations can be found online. 

Galvin said Monday that it is reasonable to expect between 30% and 50% voter turnout throughout the state, depending on the community. In Boston, Galvin expects turnout to be below what it was in 2021, when just 32 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, according to The Boston Globe. That election featured a mayoral race, as opposed to this year.

“It’s not acceptable to me. But that’s the range historically,” Galvin said. “These really are the elections that affect people where they live.”

At least four members of Boston City Council will be replaced after this election. Councilor At-Large Michael Flaherty announced his decision to not seek reelection earlier this year, as did District 3 Councilor Frank Baker. District 5 Councilor Ricardo Arroyo and District 6 Councilor Kendra Lara both lost in September’s preliminary election.

Arroyo and Lara were known as two of the most progressive councilors, but controversies derailed their campaigns. Arroyo was caught up in the misconduct violations that led to U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins’ resignation, vehemently denied sexual assault allegations, and admitted to an ethics violation. Lara faced charges after crashing a car into a Jamaica Plain home over the summer. 

Ahead of Election Day, Boston.com asked every Boston City Council candidate a series of questions on various topics to help readers understand their positions. Their answers can be found here.

Candidates were also asked a few lighter questions: their Dunkin’ order, their favorite place in Boston, their favorite movie or TV show set in the city, and their thoughts on City Hall being called “ugly.”

There are four at-large seats up for grabs on the ballot, and three incumbents running: Ruthzee Louijeune, Julia Mejia, and Erin Murphy. Five first-time candidates are also running: Henry Santana, Bridget Nee-Walsh, Clifton Braithwaite, Shawn Nelson, and Catherine Vitale. 

Gabriela Coletta is running unopposed in District 1, as is Ed Flynn in District 2 and Brian Worrell in District 4. 

John FitzGerald is up against Joel Richards in District 3, Jose Ruiz is taking on Enrique Pepén in District 5, Benjamin Weber is campaigning against William King in District 6, incumbent Tania Fernandes Anderson is running against Althea Garrison in District 7, incumbent Sharon Durkan and Montez Haywood are on the ballot in District 8, and Jacob deBlecourt is running against incumbent Liz Breadon in District 9.