ATTLEBORO — The city’s preliminary election for mayor is one week away and so far 118 people have voted, a typically slow start.

Out of that number, 93 voted by mail and 25 by absentee ballot.

The totals represent .37 percent of the 31,304 registered voters in the city.

Ballots won’t be counted until election night, Sept. 21, so there’s no telling how any of the three candidates, incumbent Paul Heroux and challengers Todd McGhee and Jim Poore, are doing so far.

But the combination of mail-in and absentee voters seems to have driven the requests for ballots higher than the last preliminary in 2017, when incumbent Kevin Dumas faced off against then-state Rep. Paul Heroux and former city councilor and fire chief Ron Churchill.

There was no mail-in voting in 2017, but the election office sent out 179 absentee ballots. Out of that number 176 were returned.

To date 184 mail-in ballots have been sent out and 93 have been returned, just over half.

In addition, 36 absentee ballots have been provided to voters and 25 have been returned, roughly two-thirds.

The combined return rate out of the 220 mail-in and absentee ballots is 54 percent.

Most of the voters will come out on preliminary election day.

Since 1999 there have been four mayoral preliminary elections and turnout has ranged from 12 to 23 percent.

The last two, in 2017 and 2005, turnout was 17 percent each.

In the 2005 preliminary, the election office sent out 220 absentee ballots and 205 were returned.

In the 1999 preliminary there were four candidates which drew the highest turnout, 23 percent.

However, the four candidates included incumbent mayor Judy Robbins, former mayor Gerry Keane, firefighter Joe Parent and David Perry Sr.

The four combined may have prompted a higher turnout especially with Robbins and Keane facing off.

In addition, there were five preliminary elections on the ballot including two for city council, one for treasurer and one for collector in addition to the mayor’s race.

The 2001 preliminary was for mayor only and drew just 12 percent of registered voters to the polls.

In that race Robbins faced off against Linda Tetreault and Michael Scott.

Tetreault finished second and came closer to unseating Robbins than any other previous candidate in the city election.

Kevin Dumas would do that in 2003.

By 2017 there were about 3,000 more registered voters than in 2005, when Dumas faced Thomas Parker and David Proulx.

But only about 500 more votes were cast in the 2017 preliminary which drove the voting percentage down from 17.31 in 2005 to 16.99. That’s even though Dumas and Heroux were big vote-getters and Churchill had finished in the number one slot for at-large city council in 2013.

George W. Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.

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