Open thread on MA election: Big turnout seen despite weather; Update:No exit polls today, says WSJ; Update: Coakley camp vote-irregularity complaint dated yesterday

Now that our server issues seem to have been resolved, let’s open up a thread for updates on the Massachusetts special election race.  At the moment, the Bay State is seeing a big turnout for a non-presidential election, let alone a special election in the middle of winter:

Voter turnout is heavy for the special election today to fill the state’s vacant U.S. Senate seat. …

In contrast to the light turnout for the party primaries last month, there are already signs of a heavy turnout.

In the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s district in Barnstable, they’re estimating a 60-percent turnout by the end of the day.

A line of cars stretched for nearly a half-mile from the gymnasium at North Andover High School. Some drivers turned around in exasperation.

Massachsuetts Secretary of State William Galvin told WBZ he expects about 40-percent of voters to turn out for the special election statewide.

Galvin said about 800,000 came out for the primaries and he believes that should double to 1.6 million based on the intense interest in this campaign.

That could be good, bad, or even both.  So far, it seems that the turnout is highest in the suburbs, which is a good sign for Brown.  And as Michelle notes, the Democratic GOTV efforts have already had some backfire:

[Democratic] outreach workers in and around Boston have been stunned by the number of Democrats and Obama supporters who are waving them off, saying they’ll vote for Scott Brown.

Things are looking good, at least thus far.  We’ll see what the first exit polls show, and keep updating the post.

Update: Showbiz Galore reports exit polling in bellwether areas of Gardner, Peabody, and Fitchburg show Brown up by mid-double digits.  However, this looks a lot like Suffolk’s numbers from the weekend.  I think SG may have confused that with exit polling.

Update II: The Wall Street Journal reports in its Political Diary (sent by e-mail) that there won’t be any exit polling in Massachusetts today.  Why?  Well, apparently Democrats weren’t the only people expecting a walkover, but there’s also good news:

Mr. Brown’s surge was so sudden that many of the usual accoutrements of closely-contested elections are missing in the Bay State.
One is exit polls. There will be none tonight from Massachusetts, disappointing journalists and political scientists alike. As Mike Allen of reports, the consortium of news outlets that normally organizes such surveys didn’t bother when the race was expected to be a blowout and now “wasn’t confident a reliable system could be built so fast.”
Another casualty of the expectation that the race would be a cakewalk for the Democrat will be an absence of absentee ballot fraud, the preferred method of putting an illegal thumb on the scale in a close race. Applications for absentee ballots had to be submitted by last Friday, providing little opportunity for those with ill intent to organize such an effort once they realized the race had tightened up.

That may be why Isabel Melendez is trying to pass some absentee ballots out on the streets now.

Update III: Here’s the Mike Allen post at Politico’s Playbook:

A DAY WITHOUT DATA: No exit polls from today’s Senate special in Massachusetts, where the polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The consortium scrambled to put something together — for the “why,” more than for the call — but wasn’t confident a reliable system could be built so fast. After all, it was just nine days ago that the Boston Sunday Globe carried the banner headline, “Senate poll: Coakley up 15 points.” (Note to self: In a volatile political environment, don’t save a poll conducted Jan. 2-6 for the paper of Jan. 10.)


Update IV: If you see voter fraud in Massachusetts today (really see it, as in witnessing and can testify to it), report it via this link.

Update V: The Boston Globe already has the results of the election, and mistakenly posted them a wee bit too early.  See if you can guess who they want to win.  Oh, let’s not always see the same hands …

Update VI: The Intrade market has collapsed for Coakley, for those who see predictive value in it.  At 17 and falling …

Update VII: Sorry, but this was too funny to pass up:

Just about every election night, Republican pollster Frank Luntz assembles a focus group of likely voters to help predict election results. Tonight you can see Luntz interview an assembly of Massachusetts voters on Fox at 9:10 p.m. EST.

But you probably won’t see all the work that went into it. As of late this afternoon, Luntz was still scrambling to balance his focus group with supporters of Democrat Martha Coakley. “I just lost another one,” Luntz growled over his cell phone from a hotel ballroom at Logan Airport. In the last 24 hours, six Coakley voters have dropped out. By contrast, Luntz hasn’t lost a single supporter of her opponent, Scott Brown.

The problem isn’t money. “They’re getting paid well,” Luntz says, “probably more than they’re making at their jobs. And they still don’t want to do it.”

Instead, says Luntz, they’re ashamed. “They don’t want to be on television defending Martha Coakley. It’s passé. It’s socially unacceptable. I never dreamed I’d see Democrats in Massachusetts embarrassed to admit they’re Democrats.

Update VII: The Coakley campaign just held a press conference with candidate Coakley alleging irregularities with ballots.  Only problem?  The press release they handed out is dated … yesterday.

Cached here.  They changed it after the story started to spread on Twitter.

Update IX: Brown responds to Coakely accusation:

“Reports that the Coakley campaign is making reckless accusations regarding the integrity of today’s election is a reminder that they are a desperate campaign.  In fact, news reports point out that today’s accusation was a pre-dated, in the bag political attack.  Furthermore, Senator John Kerry accused Brown supporters of intimidation and bullying — a tactic taken directly from his own 2004 playbook.  The reality is that Massachusetts voters will determine the outcome of this election despite political attacks leveled by Martha Coakley and national Democrats.” — Daniel B. Winslow, Counsel for the Scott Brown for U.S. Senate Campaign
CLICK HERE [this post] to view a screen shot of the pre-dated attack.

In 2004, Kerry’s Campaign Team Sent A Guidebook To Their Colorado Staff Telling Them To Launch A “Pre-Emptive Strike” If “No Signs Of Intimidation Techniques” Are Reported. “If no signs of intimidation techniques have emerged yet, launch a ‘pre-emptive strike’ (particularly well-suited to states in which there techniques have been tried in the past).

  • Issue a press release

i. Reviewing Republican tactic used in the past in your area or state

ii. Quoting party/minority/civil rights leadership as denouncing tactics that discourage people from voting

  • Prime minority leadership to discuss the issue in the media; provide talking points
  • Place stories in which minority leadership expresses concern about the threat of intimidation tactics
  • Warn local newspapers not to accept advertising that is not properly disclaimed or that contains false warnings about voting requirements and/or about what will happen at the polls” (Kerry-Edwards 2004, “Colorado Election Day Manual: A Detailed Guide To Voting In Colorado,” 11/04)

The changed date may just be a typo — or not.