Campaign volunteers stuffed their pockets with stickers bearing the names of their candidates for Framinghams 6th Middlesex House seat this morning and fanned out to the towns precincts where voters are choosing a successor to state Representative Deborah D. Blumer, who died of a heart attack last month.
Blumers death set up a six-way write-in race for the Democrats seat. Although the Democratic and Republican committees in the town each selected preferred candidates, four others also are staging aggressive campaigns for the seat in a race that has focused on illegal immigration, social services and taxes.
"Most people got stickers in the mail and brought them with them," said Evelyn Reilly, a volunteer for the campaign of Republican write-in nominee Nick Sanchez.
She stood outside the Hemenway Elementary School in Framingham alongside about a dozen other volunteers for legislative and gubernatorial candidates. "Its a free for all," she said of the month-long campaign for the seat.
Campaign volunteers there and poll worker William Toll said turnout had been steady and appeared high. About 640 people had cast votes there by 11:30 this morning.
Blumers name will appear on the ballot, but votes cast for her will not be counted.
"Theres been incredible voter turnout," said Pam Richardson, the Democratic write-in nominee for the seat, who went to the Hemenway school to greet voters. "Im surprised at how quickly people have come to understand the process."
The Town Clerks office has provided additional training for poll workers who will be reading and counting thousands of hand-written votes in the race tonight.
In addition to hot-button political topics, the race has focused on who could best continue the legacy of Blumer, considered a progressive who advocated for government benefits for immigrants and gay rights, among other stands.
Dawn Harkness, an attorney and Town Meeting member, joined the race after the Democratic party selected Richardson.
"I feel [Harkness] is the most qualified out of the six candidates, and the most progressive," said Lee Mason, who held signs outside the Hemenway School supporting Harkness.
Also running are Republican Jim Rizoli, an activist who is staunchly against illegal immigration, Republican Tom Tierney, an actuary, and independent Gerald Bloomfield, a retired engineer.