On a morning when tensions were high and nerves frayed across the United States – with fears of voter intimidation, voter suppression and even violence – Grace Episcopal Church was an oasis of quiet calm for the voters who trickled in.
The stately stone church overlooking a park in this Boston suburb serves as one of the town’s polling places. Around 10:30, a few hours after the polls opened, there were no lines, no opposing crowds of sign-waving supporters. In fact, it was extraordinarily quiet, with a slow stream of voters going in and out, but that didn’t indicate voter apathy. In Massachusetts, 2.3 million people had already voted by Election Day – about 70% of the total turnout in 2016.
That includes the Rev. Regina Walton, Grace’s rector. She voted early in nearby Arlington, where she lives. But she and Rowan Larson, Grace’s youth minister and parish administrator, were at the church overseeing operations. The church has been a polling place since 2016, when the town chose Grace to replace a polling place at a fire station, largely because it is easily accessible for handicapped people, Walton said.