Roughly 20 percent of Northern Berkshire voters turned out to strongly favor longtime U.S. Rep. Edward Markey as he won the state over his challenger Gabriel Gomez in Tuesday's special election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by John Kerry.
North Adams voted 1,115 to 413 in favor of the Democrat, Markey, but wardens said the turnout wasn't significant, especially in comparison to the last special Senate election in 2010, when Republican state Sen. Scott Brown upset Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley in the election to replace the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy.
"Slow as I expected," Head Warden Ron O'Brien said. " ... A couple of people came in and didn't even know there was an election -- that's kind of sad."
O'Brien did report a relatively high number of new and young voters, though.
New Ashford saw the highest voter turnout of the nine towns in Northern Berkshire -- 39 percent -- with 73 of the town's 186 registered voters casting ballots.
Williamstown had the second highest with 33 percent of residents visiting the polls. Town Clerk Mary Kennedy said turnout was close to 60 percent in the 2010 Senate special election.
"It was a very non-eventful day," she said. "I thought [the turnout] would be a little higher ... but we always had someone in there."
Hancock Town Clerk Linda Burdick she was pleased to see 115 ballots cast. The town of 514 registered voters saw a 22 percent turnout, she said.
"We started out real low, but by the middle of the afternoon, they were coming in pretty steady," Burdick said.
Other towns in Northern Berkshire reported average turnouts. Clarksburg Town Clerk Carol Jammalo reported the polls had a steady trickle of residents all day, with about 20 percent of residents voting. Florida Town Clerk Lisa Brown said she thought the turnout could have been a little heavier -- 18 percent of residents turned out for the election.
Adams' turnout of 19 percent was low as well, but still bested tepid expectations of around 10 percent.
"We don't know what influenced it, but people are still coming in despite the rain," Town Clerk Haley Meczywor said Tuesday evening.
Markey, 66, won the early backing of Kerry and much of the state's Democratic political establishment, which was set on avoiding a repeat of the stunning loss it suffered three years ago at the hands of Brown.
Gomez, a 47-year-old businessman and former Navy SEAL, positioned himself as a moderate and Washington outsider who would challenge partisan gridlock, contrasting himself with Markey, who was first elected to the U.S. House in 1976.
Though Markey has a lengthy career in Congress, he will become the state's junior senator to Elizabeth Warren, who has been in office less than six months after defeating Brown in November.
Gomez Heos Markey Voter turnout
Adams: 335 4 780 19%
Cheshire: 194 8 310 22%
Clarksburg: 79 1 144 20%
Florida: 45 1 53 18%
Hancock: 44 2 69 22%
New Ashford: 19 0 54 39%
North Adams: 413 9 1,115 18%
Savoy: 35 3 57 19%
Williamstown: 282 1 1,295 33%