(WGGB/WSHM) -- It's preliminary election day in western Massachusetts with voting taking place in Springfield and Greenfield.

Springfield's election commissioner said that elections day like this usually have a lower turnout.

"Every person who is willing to give his or her time and energy, this keeps our democracy alive," said Sr. Judith O'Connell.

Western Mass News caught up with O'Connell before she headed inside the Boys and Girls Club on Carew Street to cast her ballot. It's something she said she does every election day - preliminary, primary, or general.

"Because I believe in voting. I think it's a great privilege we have. I wouldn't dream of not voting. There isn't an election I haven't voted," O'Connell noted.

Tuesday's races in Springfield and Greenfield are part of a preliminary election. It's something Springfield Election Commissioner Gladys Oyola Lopez said is different than a primary election.

"In a municipal election year, we call it a city preliminary and that's going to lower the candidates from two plus one, just the double numbering. In our local elections, part of our charter, we don't have the party of the candidate on the ballot," Lopez explained.

Lopez said unfortunately, preliminary and primary election days historically have a low turnout. At last count, the city received less than 300 absentee ballots.

"It's been very slow. I can say it had picked up in Ward 4 where we do have a ward race there with five candidates, so it's a little more active. As I've gone through the city, it's pretty slow. I went to Wards 1, 3, 5 and it's been lackluster to say the least," Lopez noted.

Greenfield is also holding a preliminary election today.

Along with the town councilor at large, voters are also being asked to vote for a mayoral candidate.

Two of the three - either Sheila Gilmour, Roxann Wedegartner, or Brickett Allis - will advance to the general election.

Current Greenfield Mayor William Martin is not seeking another term.

Polls are open until 8 p.m. The elections office in Springfield said they hope to have unofficial results around 9:30 p.m.

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