Boston Election Commissioner to review processes following mayoral preliminary election

BOSTON — The final, unofficial tally of the votes in the 2021 Boston mayoral preliminary race came in around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. For much of Tuesday night, less than one percent of the vote was counted in the historic race.

RELATED: Boston Mayoral Race: Michelle Wu, Annissa Essaibi George to face off in historic Nov. 2 election

We know there are now more ways than ever to cast a ballot. We wanted to know more about the process to count those ballots.

We spoke with Boston’s Election Commissioner Eneida Tavares and we broke it down to three main questions -- Why did the count take so long? How did it compare to the presidential election of November 2020? Was this a matter of not enough election staff?

Get to know the two mayoral hopefuls with our Coffee with Candidates series:

Michelle Wu

Annissa Essaibi George


This was the first municipal election with additional ways to cast a ballot, including vote by mail and ballot drop boxes. There were 22 drop boxes throughout the city and ballots could be cast in them right up until 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

“We had a large number of votes that were received really close to 8 p.m. so there just simply wasn’t enough time to send them to the precinct,” Tavares said. “So, they had to be held back here. And we had to wait for each of the individual books to come back from the individual precinct before we can actually cross reference every single ballot.”

They do that to make sure there’s no fraud, that no one voted twice. Tavares said they want accuracy and integrity over speed.


The Boston mayor preliminary election was slightly different than 2020 presidential race. The elections commission had a little more time. In 2020, that election ballots had to be postmarked by election day not received by election day.

“In 2020, we actually had three days following the election to receive ballots. So, it was a slightly different process. All the ballots had to be in yesterday,” Tavares said.


We also asked if there was an issue with having enough staff to tally ballots. Tavares says many volunteers stepped up as well as other city departments.

“There’s a lot of moving pieces here for actually coordinating an election but we were actually fortunate enough to be able to find volunteers, and we have an amazing city,” Tavares said.


The city will review this election and see if there’s a way to streamline things. One suggestion, possibly making the deadline for the drop boxes a little earlier in the day.

Of course, we will stay on top on any changes made before November.