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Mass. Voters Face Big Decisions Including Senate

By STEVE LeBLANC, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — Polling places across the state were busy Tuesday as voters lined up for the chance to pick a president, a U.S. senator and representatives and to weigh in on ballot questions.

The most closely watched contest, the most expensive in Massachusetts history, pitted Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.

Voters also were choosing between former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Democratic President Barack Obama and deciding the fate of ballot questions that could legalize medical marijuana, allow physician-assisted suicide and overhaul car repair rules.

Brown and Warren stood in line before casting their votes shortly after polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday in their hometowns.

Brown, who won a 2010 special election to succeed the late Democrat Edward Kennedy, waited in line with his family at Wrentham Middle School before voting.

Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, was accompanied by her husband and more than a dozen other family members when she voted at the Graham Parks School in Cambridge.

Both candidates planned to spend the rest of the day visiting other polling places and phone banks before settling in to wait for results.

The candidates combined have spent a record $68 million on the campaign, but an unusual agreement they reached to keep outside groups from advertising held through the end.

That tough-fought race was evident as some independent voters left polls, reporting difficulty choosing candidates.

In Wayland, a western suburb of Boston, 53-year-old Bob Virzi said he picked Warren for the Senate.

“It was a tough call,” he said. “I just feel like we can’t let the Senate go into Republican control. I like Scott Brown, but if you look at his record, it’s not as clear-cut as it should be.”

Virzi, an unaffiliated voter who describes himself as a semi-retired consultant, also voted for Obama, saying the economy was much better off than when he took office.

In Quincy, south of Boston, 38-year-old stay-at-home mom Kendra DeMopoulos said she split her vote between two parties. The independent cast votes for Brown and Obama.

The mother of four said Brown got her vote because Warren “seems a little bit too partisan and things seem gridlocked.”

Obama got DeMopoulos’ vote because she doesn’t believe he’s had enough time to reverse economic problems and because she believes Romney’s stance on women’s issues isn’t strong.

“It was the women’s issues with Romney that sort of pushed me the other way,” she said.

Romney drew high security when he and his wife, Ann, cast their ballots Tuesday morning in the Boston suburb of Belmont, which they still call home. They were then off to Ohio and Pennsylvania for last-day campaigning in key swing states.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin on Monday projected 3.1 million of the state’s roughly 4.2 million registered voters, about 73 percent, will go to the polls, matching the turnout in 2008, the last presidential election year. His prediction was borne out as long lines were reported at many polling places.

The presidential and Senate contests drove interest in the election. Boston has registered 28,930 new voters since September’s primary. Statewide since February, nearly 232,000 new voters have been added to the rolls.

Voters also were being asked to decide three ballot questions.

Question 1 would require automakers to share diagnostic and repair information with independent mechanics. Question 2 would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication at the request of certain terminally ill patients. Question 3 would allow marijuana to be used for some medical purposes.

There also were a number of high-profile congressional races.

Voters in the open 4th Congressional District were choosing between Democrat Joseph Kennedy III and Republican Sean Bielat.

The fiercest congressional contest was in the 6th District, where Republican Richard Tisei challenged Rep. John Tierney. If Tisei wins, he would be the first Massachusetts Republican elected to the House since 1994. He has said he also would be the first openly gay Republican candidate elected to the House.

Voters also were choosing state senators and state representatives, although Democrats’ firm hold on power in the Legislature seemed unlikely to be loosened, with Republican candidates running for less than half of the legislative seats.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. and were to close at 8 p.m.

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