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Election Turnout Heavy, But Polls Quiet, Thanks to Early and Mail-in Voting

Jennette Barnes

Polls were quiet around the region yesterday, but turnout was heavy for a state primary thanks in large part to mail-in voting.

Among the local winners was Stephen Xiarhos, who beat out Sandwich resident Thomas Keyes in the Republican primary for the Fifth Barnstable District. Xiarhos is a former police officer with the Yarmouth department.

He will face off against Democrat James Devers in November. Devers ran unopposed in the primary.

Both are vying for the seat held by Republican Randy Hunt, who decided against running this year after nearly a decade representing Sandwich, Bourne, and parts of Plymouth and Barnstable.

Mark Forest and Sheila Lyons were the winners in the Democratic primary to become a Barnstable County Commissioner. Cheryl Andrews conceded to the two Democrats  Tuesday night.

Lyons, a former County Commissioner, and Forest, a Yarmouth selectman, will face off against Republic Ron Beaty of Barnstable in November. All three are vying for two seats, after Mary Pat Flynn of Falmouth chose not to seek reelection.

Speaking to CAI Wednesday morning, both Forest and Lyons both say that helping families, individuals and businesses through the pandemic will be a priority for them if elected. 

Also, Massachusetts residents voted incumbent Ed Markey back to represent Democrats in the race for the US Senate. Markey beat challenger Joe Kennedy with 55 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press.

State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, State Sen. Julian Cyr, and U.S. Rep. Bill Keating all ran unopposed on the Democratic ballot.

Locally, polls were mostly quiet on Tuesday, but turnout was high.

In some towns, like Sandwich, nearly a quarter of registered voters cast ballots by mail. It's the first time mail in voting was used in a state primary.

Almost 70 percent of the vote turned out in Yarmouth, and 43 percent turned out in Falmouth.

For election workers and some voters that come out in person, it was oddly quiet at the polls Tuesday.

That was the case for election warden Rick Lawrence in Sandwich. He said that volunteers with the town clerks office took steps to make voting safe in the era of COVID-19, but it was still quiet. 

“It's odd. Very strange," Lawrence said. "This is obviously our new reality.”

Others turning out Tuesday said that they had either never gotten around to filing out the vote-by-mail paperwork, or didn't trust that their ballot would arrive at town hall in time to be counted.

Sam Houghton has been with the station since the summer of 2017. Before that, he worked at the Falmouth Enterprise, where he covered local politics.
Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.