BOSTON (AP) --Turnout appeared relatively light Tuesday as voters entered the polls to decide the winners in a slew of key Beacon Hill and congressional primaries.
By noon in Boston, just less than 6 percent of voters had cast ballots, according to Secretary of State William Galvin's office. That's better than two years ago at the same time, but not as high as the primary four year ago, which featured a hotly contested Democratic primary for governor.
Polling places opened at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
The only statewide races are for the open auditor and treasurer seats. There are also contested primaries in eight of the state's 10 congressional districts, dozens of legislative seats and several district attorney offices.
The four candidates for governor -- Democrat Deval Patrick, Republican Charles Baker, independent Timothy Cahill and Green-Rainbow candidate Jill Stein -- are unopposed and will face off in the Nov. 2 general election.
Republicans are hoping to pick up more seats in Congress and at the Statehouse, while Democrats are trying to hang on to their decisive majorities.
Candidates spent the last hours before the election touring the state, shaking voters' hands and posting advertisements on television and the Internet.
The most crowded of the statewide contests is for auditor.
The Democratic primary pits Worcester County Sheriff Guy Glodis against former Patrick administration Labor Secretary Suzanne Bump and Northeastern University official Mike Lake. Former Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board member Mary Connaughton and businessman Kamal Jain are competing for the Republican nod.
Steve Grossman, a former Democratic National Committee chairman and Newton businessman, is competing against longtime Boston City Councilor Steve Murphy in the Democratic primary for treasurer. The winner will face Republican Karyn Polito in the general election.
There are also a number of closely watched congressional contests, including the race to fill the state's only open seat -- the 10th Congressional District post currently held by Democratic Rep. William Delahunt, who is not seeking re-election.
Vying for the Republican nomination are state Rep. Jeffrey Perry of Sandwich; former state Treasurer Joseph Malone; Cohasset accountant Ray Kasperowicz; and Robert Hayden, a lawyer with the Department of Public Utilities.
Norfolk District Attorney William Keating and state Sen. Robert O'Leary of Barnstable are the Democratic candidates.
The GOP is also keeping a close eye on the 5th Congressional District seat held by Niki Tsongas. The Lowell Democrat is seen as vulnerable partly because the district is one of the state's more conservative.
Four Republicans -- Haverhill research analyst Sam Meas; Jon Golnik of Carlisle, who resells Boston College merchandise; Westford small business owner Tom Weaver; and former Andover math teacher Robert Shapiro -- are trying to oust Tsongas.
In the state's 9th Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Stephen Lynch is fending off a challenge from Mac D'Alessandro, who is irked at Lynch for not supporting the Obama administration's health care overhaul.
Photojournalist Keith Lepor of Boston and computer technician Vernon Harrison of Braintree are fighting for the Republican nomination.
Rep. Barney Frank is facing a crowded field in the 4th Congressional District.
The incumbent Democrat is fielding a challenge from 29-year-old Rachel Brown in his party's primary. Barney famously compared talking with her to "arguing with a dining room table" during a town hall meeting last year. Brookline businessman and Marine Sean Bielat and Norfolk businessman Earl Sholley are vying for the GOP nomination.