Voters had a total of 38 candidates to sort through before showing up at the polls on Tuesday, as 26 City Council candidates and 12 School Committee hopefuls vied for municipal seats.
Voter turnout hovered at about 17 percent at 3 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Cambridge Election Commission. The number does not include ballots with write-in candidates, blank ballots, or ballots with overvotes, which will be hand-counted. Voter turnout hit 28 percent in the 2015 municipal election.
All City Councilors and School Committee members in Cambridge are chosen at-large through a proportional representation election. Voters rank as many candidates as they’d like on their ballots, which are tallied in a way that ensures minority groups of voters are duly represented but that a majority group of voters will elect the majority of the Council.
There is no mayoral race in Cambridge. Once the nine city councilors take office in January, they choose which of them will become mayor. The mayor joins six School Committee members to make a seven-member board.
The field of candidates is often large in Cambridge. A total of 34 candidates put their names in the two races in both 2013 and 2015.
“There are too many candidates. It’s really hard to focus,” says Kerri Brann, who noted that many of the candidates’ platforms are indistinguishable from each other.
“It was very time-consuming,” Christine Kruger says about researching the candidates. “Honestly, I only voted for five because I didn’t have time.”
Faith and Bob Hyde, 21-year Cambridge residents, say they mainly learned about the candidates when they visited their home.
Bob, who helped tally votes one year, is wary of the logistics of counting votes for so many candidates. “This is going to be a super mess.”
But Faith pointed out the positive side of having a large candidate field.
“We live in a democracy. It’s wonderful. I admire the people that try,” Faith says.