By Scott Shurtleff

LOWELL -- Voting across the Merrimack Valley got off to a quick start on Election Day, then settled into a late-morning lull.

"It is eerie how slow it is," said a volunteer outside Immaculate Conception Church on Merrimack Street.

One reason given is the popularity of early voting, spread out over two weeks before Tuesday. Secretary of State William Galvin said Monday that about 2.4 million Massachusetts residents of the 4.6 million registered would cast a ballot..

"It's been such a big push this year," said 19-year-old first time voter Mike Lopez. He cited Question 3, a referendum to overturn the state's transgender rights law. "I would have come anyway (without that issue) but that really motivated me."

Sullivan School on Douglas Street, a historically busy polling place, was one of few places in the city that featured waiting lines throughout the morning, albeit less than expected, according to one volunteer.

One signholders was Kathy Michaud, who was advocating a "no" vote on Question 1, which seeks to mandate nurse staffing at hospitals.

"I always vote, my voice likes to be heard," she said. "It's my civic duty. I am trying to help turn this state purple. I'm hoping to not put Elizabeth Warren back in office," she explained.

Lifelong Lowell resident and retiree, Robert Sousa was drawn to the Joseph McAvinnue School on Mammoth Road poling place partly by the ballot questions.


"I always vote," he said. "I never missed an election but this time we were (with his wife) passionate about Question 1 so that added to the motivation."